Egyptian authorities release a journalist working for Qatar’s Al Jazeera television network who was held in pre-trial detention for more than four years on charges of spreading false news and receiving foreign funds.

Egyptian authorities have released a journalist working for Qatar’s Al Jazeera television network who was held in pre-trial detention for more than four years.

  • Mahmoud Hussein had been in detention since December 2016
  • Al Jazeera welcomed the news, saying no journalist should suffer what he has been put through
  • His brother said a Cairo court ordered his release with “precautionary measures”

Mahmoud Hussein, an Egyptian detained in December 2016 after arriving in Cairo from Doha on holiday, was held on charges of spreading false news, joining a banned group and receiving foreign funds.
He was released 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 Doha denies.
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.
Mr Abou al-Nasr said prosecutors had not appealed the decision, as they had against a similar decision in 2019.
It was not immediately clear what the release conditions were but Nageh Hussein said his brother may have to spend several hours a week in a police station.
Al Jazeera campaigned for the release of its journalist Mahmoud Hussein.(Supplied: Al Jazeera)
Al Jazeera Media Network welcomed the news.
“No journalist should ever be subjected to what Mahmoud has suffered for the past four years for merely carrying out his profession,” the TV network said in a statement on its website.
A video posted by his brother on Facebook showed relatives and neighbours receiving him with hugs and chants.
Musicians beat drums in his village near Cairo.
Australian journalist Peter Greste had been released by Egypt the year prior to Hussein’s detainment.(Foreign Correspondent: Greg Wilesmith)
Egypt freed three Al Jazeera journalists, including Australian Peter Greste, in 2015 after more than one year in detention pending trial.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has accused Egypt of putting journalists behind bars to muzzle dissent, saying that 27 were in prison as of late 2020.
Egyptian authorities say legal action has only been taken against those who break the law.