Egypt: Journalist still behind bars despite release order

The Al Jazeera journalist Hisham Abdel Aziz, who was arrested in Egypt in 2019, remains behind bars although prosecution ordered his release last week

The Al Jazeera Mubasher journalist Hisham Abdel Aziz, who was arrested in Egypt four years ago, remains in detention despite prosecutors ordering his release last week, reported Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, citing his family.

The Egyptian authorities arrested the Qatar-based journalist Abdel Aziz at Cairo International Airport during a family vacation in June 2019 and kept him in pretrial detention for twice the legal maximum on terrorism-related charges.

After persistent calls for his release amid his failing health, the Presidential Pardon Committee finally announced on April 17 that the Public Prosecution had ordered the release of Abdel Aziz and 40 others.

Nine days later, however, Abdel Aziz is the only one among the 41 to remain behind bars, his wife tweeted on April 26.

His family says that they do not know the reason he is still detained and called on responsible authorities to “release him quickly, given his health condition and out of compassion for his family.”

Prosecutors frequently appeal court-ordered releases or rotate detainees into new cases on similar charges to keep them behind bars, but sometimes even prosecutors’ release orders are ignored.

Ahmed Sabry Nassef, who was arrested in 2017 as an 18 year old, is one example. After the Public Prosecution ordered his release in 2019, authorities forcibly disappeared him until they charged him in a new case months later.

Following two more years of pretrial detention, the Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered him released, but he was again illegally detained until he was added to yet another case.

Nassef remains in detention despite those two release orders and three acquittals in court.