CAIRO, 6 February 2021 – Egypt has freed a journalist from the Qatari news network, Al Jazeera, according to news reports Saturday, citing security sources.

The journalist, Mahmoud Hussein, who is an Egyptian national, was arrested and imprisoned on 23 December 2016 after he arrived his native Egypt on a family holiday.

Mahmoud Hussein - Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

Mahmoud Hussein – Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

Judicial authorities in Cairo accused him of incitement against state institutions and spreading false news.

Al Jazeera has been running a daily campaign calling for his release and accusing Egyptian authorities for holding him “without formal charges nor trial”.

As of Saturday, the news network said it could not confirm that Mahmoud Hussein had, indeed, walked out of jail.

While the decision to set him free has been taken, the journalist is still being held and has not returned home to his family, said Gamal Eid, the leader of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information.

The French news agency (AFP) reported Friday that Mahmoud Hussein had been released Thursday night, citing security sources.

Mahmoud Hussein is believed to be a victim of officials who hated his reporting on Egypt for Al Jazeera who punished him using the pretext of sour relations, at the time, between Egypt and Qatar.

Campaign for Mahmoud Hussein - Reporters Sans Frontieres

Campaign for Mahmoud Hussein – Reporters Sans Frontieres

The four-year rift between the two Arab States finally came to a resolution two weeks ago after Egypt and Qatar restored diplomatic ties.

Saudi Arabia led the campaign to freeze relations with Qatar.

Shortly after Riyadh cut ties with Doha, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain followed suit in June 2017, alleging that Qatar backed radical Islamic groups and was close to Iran, an arch rival of Saudi Arabia.

Doha has long denied the accusations.

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