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Al Jazeera calls on Egypt to release journalists held on 'baseless allegations'

Egyptian Journalists take part during a protest against the arrests of fellow journalists outside the Egyptian Journalist syndicate headquarters in the capital Cairo on 3 May 2016 on the occasion of World Press Freedom day. [Amr Sayed/Apaimages]
Egyptian Journalists take part during a protest against the arrests of fellow journalists outside the Egyptian Journalist syndicate headquarters in the capital Cairo on 3 May 2016 [Amr Sayed/ApaImages]

Al Jazeera calls on Egypt to release its journalist Hisham Abdelaziz who is being held "on baseless allegations, despite exceeding the legal period of pretrial detention stated in the Egyptian law", the news group said in a statement today.

Abdelaziz, an Egyptian journalist, was stopped, questioned and arrested by the authorities more than two years ago, whilst he was travelling to Cairo for a family visit; "during which he was subjected to enforced disappearance for around a month", Al Jazeera explained.

"Al Jazeera Media Network condemns the continuous detention of Abdelaziz and reiterates its call for the immediate release of him and other detained journalists."

The statement said Abdelaziz now suffers from glaucoma and contracted otosclerosis while in detention, which may affect his hearing.

"Al Jazeera reaffirms its continued support for all its journalists and employees and demands for the immediate release of Abdelaziz and three other colleagues detained in Egypt, and to allow them to reunite with their loved ones."

READ: Egypt's president increases penalty for divulging state secrets

Earlier this year, a UN rights expert condemned Egypt for targeting journalists, human rights defenders and their families, and called on authorities to stop silencing dissent and shrinking civic space in the country.

Egypt has embarked on a brutal crackdown on dissent since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi came to power in 2014, jailing more than 60,000 critics and imposing strict censorship measures on public discourse.

Al-Sisi has consistently denied that there are political prisoners in Egypt, framing the crackdown as part of a fight against terrorism.

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