The family of Mahmoud Hussein, the imprisoned Al Jazeera journalist, are calling on Egyptian authorities to give him permission to attend his father’s funeral after he passed away yesterday.
In September Hussein requested permission to visit his father Hussein Jumaa but the request was denied. Jumaa had five strokes in the period of time Hussein has been in prison.
In a Facebook post yesterday, his daughter Az-Zahraa Mahmoud Hussein wrote: “No one answered for two months when we asked for an exit visa for our father to see his sick father, now he wants to bury his father and say goodbye… we demand the release of journalist Mahmoud Hussein to bury his father tomorrow after the noon prayer.”
Hussein was arrested in December 2016 after visiting his family in Egypt and has been in pre-trial detention for over 1,000 days, accused with incitement against state institutions and spreading chaos and broadcasting false news.
In May the state prosecutor ordered his release but then a new investigation was launched and he was returned to prison. This is common practice for political prisoners in Egypt and has been dubbed the “revolving door” policy of arrest and re-arrest by rights watchdog Amnesty International.
Over 20 human rights organisations have expressed concern over Hussein’s continued incarceration including the UN Human Rights Council. Al Jazeera has refuted all charges against him.
Since the 2013 coup the Sisi regime has portrayed Al Jazeera as an enemy of the state for its coverage of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood organisation. In 2017 the government blocked access to the website, regarding it too critical of the regime.
According to information gathered by Reporters San Frontieres (RSF) in January, at least 32 journalists are detained in Egypt – most are in pre-trial detention and most do not know exactly what they’ve been charged with.
Egypt is classed as 163 out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.