Egypt releases 32 pre-trial detainees including three female journalists
The Egyptian authorities released on Wednesday evening 32 pre-trial detainees, including three female journalists who had been behind bars for almost two years in a country ranked as the world's third worst jailer of journalists.
The three women had been known for being outspoken critics of the government and the alleged corruption inside the Maspero building, housing several state-run media outlets.
Detained since 2022, the three senior journalists were reportedly subjected to enforced disappearance and then later faced with terrorism-related charges by the state security prosecution in separate cases.
Whether the charges against them have been dropped or they will still face trial remains unclear.
Balshy could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
Legally, pre-trial detention cannot exceed two years in Egypt. But local and international human rights groups have always accused the authorities of recycling dissidents, primarily journalists and activists, into new cases before the 24 months are over. By doing so, they remain incarcerated for years without a fair trial.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has run the country with an iron fist since he seized power following a 2013 coup. Media freedom and civil rights have sharply deteriorated since then.
Some 600 local and international news sites have also been blocked in Egypt, including Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, the Arabic-language sister company to The New Arab.
In April last year, the Egyptian security authorities listed 33 journalists on a new "terrorism" watch list among 82 people, including activists, politicians, and human rights defenders, all living in self-exile outside the country.
Meanwhile, Wednesday's batch of released detainees includes 11 teachers arrested for staging a peaceful protest in October last year after they had been rejected for a competition for public posts.