Cairo: 25 December, 2016
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said today that the detention of Mahmoud Hussein, a journalist at Al Jazeera news, indicates the Egyptian government’s ongoing crackdown on press freedom and prosecution of journalists not because of their involvement in a crime but for working in channels that are against the state.
According to Al Jazeera, the Egyptian security forces arrested Mahmoud Hussein upon his return from Qatar last Tuesday and during a visit with his family in Egypt, adding that two of his brothers were also arrested. They were all then taken to unknown place.
Yasser Abuhilala, managing director of Al Jazeera news, asserted that Hussein was in Egypt to visit his family, and not for work purposes.
State Security Prosecution ruled to imprison Mahmoud Hussein for 15 days on charges of “disseminating false news and rumors about Egypt’s internal affairs and fabricating media reports”.
ANHRI said, “The Egyptian authorities don’t have the right to punish Al Jazeera journalists- or any other journalists in general- for holding different opinions or for working in TV channels that are opposing the government. Arresting citizens should bebecause of their violation of the law or committing a crime not because of having different opinions”.
ANHRI called for the release of Mahmoud Hussein. “Accusations pressed against Mahmoud Hussein should be specifically declared proving his involvement in any crime, instead of these vaguely-worded charges that the Ministry of Interior used to level against journalists. It usually breaches its role in declaring charges and trumps up charges in cases investigated by the Public Prosecution, as the Interior Ministry is an executive not a judicial branch. The authorities, as well, have to halt their prosecution of journalists and release prisoners of conscience and journalism who are detained in connection with their work or because of their views”, ANHRI further said.