Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres — RSF) called on Thursday for Egypt to release four Al Jazeera journalists immediately. RSF said that the four employees of the Qatari broadcaster are still being held by the Egyptian authorities despite the recent breakthrough in diplomatic relations between Cairo and Doha.
The Egyptian authorities arrested Al Jazeera Mubasher producer Rabie El-Sheikh on 1 August when he returned from a visit to Doha where the network has its headquarters. A Cairo court is about to decide whether to extend his 15-day pre-trial detention on a charge of “spreading false news”.
According to the RSF statement, the Egyptian authorities are also holding two other Al Jazeera Mubasher journalists on charges of “spreading false news” and “membership of a terrorist group”.
Bahaa Ed-Din Ibrahim has been in jail since February last year and is alleged to have been held in solitary confinement for 75 days and given electric shocks. Hesham Abdel Aziz, meanwhile, has been held by the Egyptians since June 2019 and needs surgery for a glaucoma. In December 2019 a court approved Abdel Aziz’s release but he remained in detention because a new investigation was opened against him.
RSF said that a fourth Al Jazeera journalist, whose name is being withheld, has been detained in Egypt since June last year.
“We urge the Egyptian authorities to go the whole way in their detente with Qatar by releasing all imprisoned Al Jazeera employees,” said the head of RSF’s Middle East desk, Sabrina Bennoui. “The resumption of activities by Al Jazeera’s Cairo bureau won’t be regarded as complete as long as these journalists continue to suffer for the years of political rivalry between the two countries.”