Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Hussein: 300 days in prison
Monday marks 300 days since Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein was detained by Egyptian authorities while on holiday last December.
Hussein, an Egyptian national based in Qatar, was accused of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos”.
Before working at the network’s headquarters in the Qatari capital, Doha, Hussein was based in Al Jazeera’s now-closed bureau in Cairo.
His family say the journalist is in poor physical and psychiatric condition, and is being denied adequate treatment for ailments.
When Hussein broke his arm in prison last summer, officials refused to allow him to receive treatment in a hospital outside the prison.
Al Jazeera has rejected the accusations against Hussein and has called on Egypt to unconditionally release its journalist.
Human rights and press freedom groups have also condemned his ongoing detention.
At the time of his arrest, Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalist said: “Egyptian authorities are waging a systematic campaign against Al Jazeera, consisting of arbitrary arrest, censorship, and systematic harassment.”
‘As though it is a funeral’
In May Hussein’s daughter, Zahra, spoke to Al Jazeera about the effect her father’s continued detention is having on herself and her family.
She said her father was afraid of being forgotten and that she was scared her father might die in prison.
“I think our family will remain in this pain until my father gets out.”
Zahra Hussein, Mahmoud’s daughter
“My father is the eldest and he’s like the Mukhtar (the leader of the family). Every day since my father was arrested, the whole family – more than 70 people – visit us as though it is a funeral,” she told Al Jazeera at the time, adding: “I think our family will remain in this pain until my father gets out.”
The arrest left Zahra, a journalism student, and her siblings unable to concentrate on their studies and coverage of the case by Egyptian media has left them unable to find employment.
Shortly after his arrest Hussein was paraded on national television, which branded him a “terrorist who works for Al Jazeera.”
Targeting of journalists
The detention was the latest in a string of arrests by Egyptian authorities targeting the network’s staff in the country.
In May 2016, Ibrahim Helal, the former editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic was sentenced to death in-absentia for purportedly endangering national security.
Egypt also imprisoned Al Jazeera’s Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy, and Peter Greste on charges of spreading “false news” in a case that was widely condemned by international media outlets and politicians alike.
Egypt, let our journalist go!