Egyptian journalist Mahmoud Hussein marks one year in pretrial detention without proper due process on December 22, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today.
Egyptian authorities arrested Hussein, a Doha-based Al Jazeera TV journalist, on December 22, 2016, two days after he arrived for holidays in Egypt, his daughter, Aya Gomaa, told Human Rights Watch. State Security prosecutors ordered him detained on charges of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos.”
“Mahmoud Hussein languishing for over a year in pretrial detention demonstrates Egypt’s deep-rooted intolerance for free expression as well as the unlawful use of pretrial detention as a punishment,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch. “Everyone is entitled to due process, and no one should be imprisoned for being a journalist.”
National Security Agency (NSA) officers interrogated Hussein for more than 15 hours upon his arrival at Cairo International Airport on December 20, 2016, and then released him but kept his passport, Gomaa told Human Rights Watch. Two days later, December 22, 2016, NSA officers called him and told him to retrieve his passport that morning. His phone was shut off at 11 a.m. He was not heard from again until 10 p.m., when he showed up at his family’s home in handcuffs accompanied by NSA agents, who then proceeded to destroy private belongings in the home and arrest his two brothers. His brothers were released 11 days later.
Hussein is being held in Tora Prison in Cairo. Egypt’s judiciary has regularly renewed Hussein’s pretrial detention since his arrest, most recently on December 14 for 45 more days. His family is allowed weekly visits, Gomaa told Human Rights Watch.