Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein marks three years in arbitrary and illegal detention after being detained by Egyptian authorities while visiting his family on December 23, 2016, despite a court order for his release.

Al Jazeera Media Network renews its call for the immediate release of Mahmoud Hussein from arbitrary detention and strongly condemns his unjust imprisonment. Mahmoud’s detainment by the Egyptian government is a flagrant violation of international and Egyptian law and an infringement on his fundamental rights.

Commenting on Mahmoud Hussein’s unjust imprisonment, Dr. Mostefa Souag, the Acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network stated; “on behalf of Al Jazeera, I call on all international organizations, media entities, journalists, human rights advocates and people of conscience to uphold the fundamental rights of all journalists and to call for the immediate release of our colleague Mahmoud Hussein. We cannot remain silent on this abhorrent injustice that our colleague endures and this impunity must end, as journalism is not a crime.”

Egypt maintains its position as one of the leading offenders of press freedom as it continues to crackdown on journalists. Mahmoud Hussein has been robbed of three years of his life, with no end in sight, all without legal justification.

Commenting on Mahmoud Hussein marking three years in prison, the Executive Director at the International Press Institute, Barbara Trionfi, said, “We have been observing the unjust imprisonment of Mahmoud Hussein in Egypt. We are appalled at his imprisonment and we have repeatedly called for his release.  IPI is a global network of editors and journalists around the world, and Mahmoud Hussein is one of our most respected members. The conditions in which he has been detained are unacceptable and the way Egypt has been disregarding international standards in imprisoning journalists is a crime.”

Standing in solidarity with Mahmoud Hussein and calling for his immediate and unconditional release, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Execution and the Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression stated that, “at the UN, the working group on arbitrary detention, the special rapporteur on freedom of expression, and the special rapporteur on counter terrorism have all denounced the continued arbitrary detention of Mahmoud Hussein.”

The executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalist, Joel Simon, said, “Every journalist who is imprisoned is an individual tragedy, but the collective imprisonment of hundreds of journalists around the world is a form of censorship, it is depriving us of essential information that we need. We have to free journalists imprisoned around the world, we must free Mahmoud Hussein.”

The founder of the Ethical Journalism Network, Aidan White, said, “The scandalous continuous detention of Mahmoud Hussein is something that effects journalists the world over. He is a journalist who is being detained and victimized for his work, and used partially in a political struggle. Mahmoud should not spend another day behind bars; he should be released immediately.

In addition to incarcerating Mahmoud Hussein, the Egyptian regime has sentenced in absentia six other Al Jazeera staff; two renowned British journalists and four Egyptian journalists, who were all tried and sentenced in absentia to ten years each. As a result, they continue to live in constant fear of being detained, arrested and deported to Egypt when traveling around the world.

At Al Jazeera, we stand firmly by all our colleagues and the right to media freedom, and believe that no journalist should be persecuted, imprisoned or intimidated while carrying out their duty. The safety of journalists should be taken globally in the highest regard as freedom of speech is not a luxury but a necessity and basic requirement to uphold the values of democracy.