Egyptian Al Jazeera journalist Hisham Abdel-Aziz yet to be released despite presidential pardon: family
The Al Jazeera network journalist Hisham Abdel-Aziz, who had been in detention for almost four years without trial over alleged terrorism-related charges, has not yet been released despite receiving a presidential pardon earlier last week, his family said on social media.
Abdel-Aziz, an Egyptian national, was among a list of 40 individuals pardoned before Eid Al-Fitr. However, his family said they were surprised to find out that the presidential pardon had not yet been enacted.
"What's required that we do for Hisham…to be set free? We presented pleas to the Presidential Pardons Committee, the National Council for Human Rights and all concerned parties. What else should we do? Lawyers are working on it. Who could bring justice to my brother?" Ayman Abdel-Aziz, the journalist's brother, posted on Twitter on Monday.
طيب ايه اللي مطلوب نعمله علشان #هشام_عبدالعزيز يتم إطلاق سراحه— Ayman Abdelaziz (@aymanabdelazizg) April 24, 2023
مناشدات وناشدنا الجميع
طلبات للجنة العفو والمجلس القومي لحقوق الإنسان وكل ذو شأن بالموضوع وقدمنا
طيب نعمل ايه تاني
من ممكن ان ينصف أخي #هشام_عبدالعزيز ويحقق العدل؟#الحرية_للصحفي_هشام_عبدالعزيز pic.twitter.com/OglZUBhfUZ
One day earlier, Samira El-Taher, the detained journalist's wife, tweeted: "Five days have passed since the prosecution ordered [his] release. Hisham…was among…others; all of them got out and spent Eid with their families except [him] for unknown reasons. Those five days were preceded by 1400 days of pre-trial detention."
خمسة أيام مرت علي صدور قرار من النيابة بإخلاء سبيل #الصحفي_هشام_عبدالعزيز ضمن قائمة تضم ٤٠ شخص اخرين ، جميعهم خرجوا وقضوا العيد مع اسرهم ما عدا هشام ، لسبب غير معروف حتي الآن .— samira eltaher (@samira_eltaher) April 23, 2023
الخمسة ايام تسبقها ١٤٠٠ يوم حبس احتياطي .
The reasons behind keeping Abdel-Aziz in custody despite the release order remain unknown. The state security prosecution's office could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.
In June 2019, Abdel-Aziz was briefly detained and his passport confiscated upon arriving at Cairo International Airport from the Qatari capital Doha, the home of Al Jazeera.
A few days later, he was interrogated by a state security prosecutor after he was summoned to receive his passport. The prosecutor then ordered him to be detained over alleged terrorism-related charges, accusations commonly used against regime critics and journalists in Egypt.
Since then, he has been illegally detained for about four years without trial. Legally, pre-trial detention cannot exceed 24 months as per Egyptian law.
Several international human rights and press freedom advocates recurrently called for Abdel-Aziz's release after he had been at risk of losing his eyesight due to medical negligence in detention.
The Egyptian regime had been at odds with Al Jazeera and the Qatari regime supporting it since the coup led by the then-defence minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi overthrew late president Mohamed Morsi's regime in July 2013.
Al Jazeera and Qatar are known for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood group that Morsi belonged to.
In January 2021, Cairo and Doha resumed diplomatic relations following a Saudi-sponsored recondition with Qatar.
The Egyptian authorities released last year Ahmed Al-Najdi, another journalist with Al Jazeera, after spending over two years in pre-trial detention.
Two other Al Jazeera journalists are now detained in Egypt, a country ranked as the world's third worst jailer of journalists under the current regime of president Sisi who assumed power in 2014.
Last week, the authorities in Egypt listed 82 people on a new "terrorism" watch list, including 33 journalists who are currently self-exiled. The journalists on the list are mostly working for Al Jazeera and TV channels broadcasting from Turkey, both critical of Sisi's rule.