Al Jazeera slams Egypt as journalist marks year behind bars

Al Jazeera slams Egypt as journalist marks year behind bars
2 min read
Egypt has a poor human rights record, and rights groups say Cairo has incarcerated thousands of prisoners including journalists and activists.
Egypt has a history of detaining journalists, activists and dissidents [Getty]

Al Jazeera on Monday said the health of their journalist Rabie el-Sheikh was declining after a year in solitary confinement in Egyptian detention, condemning Cairo's extension of his incarceration.

The Egyptian producer for Al Jazeera Mubasher, the live TV unit of the Qatar-based network, was arrested at Cairo airport on 1 August 2021 on a visit to his family.

Sheikh was originally accused of "spreading false news" but has never been charged.

The television network said it "deplores" the decision to keep him in one of Egypt's toughest jails for another 45 days.

"Continuous extension of his detention throughout the year in solitary confinement at the notorious Tora Prison has severely impacted and resulted in deterioration of his physical and mental health," the network said in a statement.

As well as Sheikh, the channel demanded the release of three other Al Jazeera journalists, Hisham Abdel Aziz, Bahauddin Ibrahim and Ahmed al-Najdi "who are being held in detention without trial nor charges".

The broadcaster said Aziz was arrested in August 2020, Ibrahim in February 2020, and Najdi in June 2019.

They are accused of "membership of a banned group" and "spreading false information".

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"Al Jazeera views the detention of the journalist as an attack on press freedom," the broadcaster added.

It said it "holds Egyptian authorities accountable for the safety and security of el-Sheikh and all other journalists detained and imprisoned for merely carrying out their duties as journalists."

Egypt's human rights record is regularly condemned, with groups saying there are 60,000 political prisoners, many held on charges of "spreading false news".

Cairo, where at least 20 journalists are behind bars, currently ranks 168th out of 180 countries in the press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.