Egyptian court orders the release of Mahmoud Hussein
A court in Egypt has ordered the release of Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein from prison after 881 days of detention.
The court ruled on his release on Tuesday but following an appeal by the prosecution Hussein was brought to a different court on Thursday. It upheld the earlier decision.
However, it remained unclear exactly when the Qatar-based Egyptian producer will be freed from prison.
Az-Zahra Hussein, his daughter, said in a Facebook post her father will be released “with precautionary measures”, and will soon be transferred to a police station from prison.
Hussein has been in custody since 2016 without formal charges, a trial, or a conviction.
He was accused of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos”, allegations he and Al Jazeera Media Network deny.
Tahir Abu al-Nasr, a lawyer for Hussein, told Anadolu news agency the Cairo Criminal Court rejected the prosecutors’ appeal.
Hussein’s detention was in violation of both Egyptian and international law, with the former setting 24 months as the maximum period for pre-trial detention.
Egyptian authorities have repeatedly renewed his two-year detention.
He was arrested on December 20, 2016, by Egyptian authorities upon his arrival in Cairo to visit his family.
In February, the United Nations called Hussein’s jailing “arbitrary detention”, saying the “appropriate remedy would be to release Mr Hussein immediately”.
In 2013, Egypt also arrested and later imprisoned Al Jazeera’s Abdullah Elshamy, Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste on charges of spreading “false news” – cases that were widely condemned by international media outlets and many politicians.
All have since been freed.
Ibrahim Helal, former editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, was sentenced to death in absentia for purportedly endangering national security. Several other colleagues have also been charged in absentia, such as journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Egypt 163rd out of 180 in its 2019 Press Freedom Index.