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Egypt agrees to release some journalists

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes the agreement of the Egyptian legal system in principle to release five journalists, but points out that this is not long enough and that only two of the five have been released so far.

A court in Cairo has in principle agreed on November 3 to release Sayed Abdellah and Mohamed Ibrahim, a blogger also known as Mohamed Oxygen, who has been detained since September 2019, and Haitham Hasan Mahgoub, detained since May 2020. Two other journalists, Sameh Hanin and Awni Nafie, were actually released the same day.

The decisions came days after 56 members of both houses of the US Congress and more than 220 MEPs wrote letters to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi freeing him from prison, including journalists, whose detention is virtually non-existent. a death sentence is because of the danger of trapping Covid-19 in pressured prison conditions.

Although the release decisions have been linked to these US and European initiatives, the release of three of the journalists has still not taken place. And exactly one week after the decision of 3 November, Mohamed Oxygen learned that he was the subject of a new investigation based on ‘membership of a terrorist group’, which requires 15 days of preliminary detention.

Some of the many journalists still in prison in Egypt were mentioned in the letters. These include Mahmoud Hussein, Alaa Abdel Fattah and Hossam Al-Sayyad. Meanwhile, new investigations have been opened against two other detained journalists, Solafa Magdy and Esraa Abdel Fattah, for offenses allegedly committed in prison.

“These releases are so unusual that they deserve to be highlighted, but they are far from sufficient and the list of journalists currently in Egyptian prisons is still too long,” said Sabrina Bennoui, head of RSF’s desk. in the Middle East, said.

“Instead of freeing journalists in one and two and extending the detention of others indefinitely, the Egyptian authorities must comply with international law by agreeing to release all arbitrarily detained journalists immediately.”

Egypt ranks 166th out of 180 countries in the RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

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