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Al Jazeera demands Egypt release reporter held for year

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As its journalist Mahmoud Hussein marks one year of being detained by Egypt, Al Jazeera Media Network has upped a call for the 51-year-old’s release.

In a statement released on Wednesday, exactly one year after Hussein was held, the Qatar-based network condemned repeated renewals of his detention – the tenth and latest of which came on December 14.

He has still not been formally charged, but is accused of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos” – allegations he, his lawyers and Al Jazeera strongly deny.

“Mahmoud was detained in December last year by Egyptian authorities upon his arrival in Cairo while on annual vacation visiting his family,” Al Jazeera said in the statement. “Mahmoud’s physical health has deteriorated having first been held in solitary confinement from December 23 until March 20, 2017.

“On June 13, while in prison, he sustained a fracture in his left elbow. To date, he has not been allowed access to the required medical treatment by the Egyptian authorities, even though Al Jazeera would cover all costs.”

To mark the milestone, Al Jazeera journalists gathered in a studio at the Doha headquarters for a silent solidarity protest.

“Al Jazeera strongly condemns the actions of the Egyptian authorities, which are a clear and blatant violation of his basic human rights which are supposedly guaranteed by Egyptian laws and international binding treaties,” said the network.

“We believe that the protection of journalists must be held in the highest regard – no journalist should be subject to intimidation, persecution, or imprisonment while carrying out their duties. Press freedom is a basic fundamental of democratic values.”

Reporters Without Borders ranks Egypt 161st out of 180 countries in its press freedom index.

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) dubs the country “one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists”.

With at least 20 journalists behind bars in relation to their work, Egypt is among the world’s top three jailers of journalists.

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