Egypt releases Qatari Al-Jazeera journalist

He spent nearly four years in pretrial detention. Egypt on Sunday released Hisham Abdelaziz, a journalist from the Qatari channel Al Jazeera announced the latter on Twitter. This epilogue comes at a time when diplomatic relations are heating up between Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the one hand, and on the other Qatar, accused until recently of despite its denials, to support extremist groups and to use its media to create regional dissension.

Of Egyptian nationality, Hisham Abdelaziz was arrested in June 2019 during a visit to his family in Egypt, Egyptian State Security accusing him of “belonging to a terrorist group” and “spreading false information”, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) in Egypt. These charges are regularly used by regimes in the region to imprison critical journalists and human rights activists.

Two more journalists from the chain imprisoned

In September 2022, Cairo had already released Ahmed Al-Najdi, another Al-Jazeera journalist. But the country still has two other reporters from the Qatari group, Bahaa El-Din Ibrahim and Rabie El-Sheikh, both accused of the same offences.

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Plunged into a deep economic crisis, Egypt has moved considerably closer to Qatar, the wealthy Gulf gas emirate that it once held in contempt. In September 2021, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha to witness, alongside the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the signing of several investment and development.

Egypt is regularly singled out for its human rights record, with more than 60,000 prisoners of conscience, often accused of “spreading false information”, according to international NGOs. The NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also ranks the country 168th out of 180 on the freedom of the press list, estimating that pluralism there is “virtually zero” and that “independent media are censored”.

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