Egyptian authorities have released Mahmoud Hussein, an Egyptian journalist working for Qatar’s al-Jazeera television network who had been held in pre-trial detention for more than four years, his brother and lawyer say.
Hussein, who was detained in December 2016 after arriving in Cairo from Doha for a holiday, was being held on charges of spreading false news, joining a banned group and receiving foreign funds.
He was released several weeks after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt agreed in January to restore diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar severed in 2017 over allegations that Qatar supported terrorism, a charge that officials in Doha deny.
A Cairo court ordered Hussein’s release with “precautionary measures” pending investigations on February 1, his brother Nageh Hussein and lawyer Taher Abou al-Nasr told Reuters.
It was not immediately clear what the release conditions were but Nageh Hussein said his brother may be required to spend several hours every Saturday and Tuesday in a police station.
Al-Jazeera Media Network welcomed the news, saying “…no journalist should ever be subjected to what Mahmoud has suffered for the past four years for merely carrying out his profession”.
“Today, we are pleased he is finally reunited with his family, after being robbed four years from his life and deprived of his fundamental rights.”
Egypt freed three al-Jazeera journalists, including Australian Peter Greste, in 2015 after more than one year in detention pending trial.