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Egypt frees Al Jazeera producer held for nearly 4 years

Egypt frees Al Jazeera producer held for nearly 4 years

The authorities in Egypt have released a journalist with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network nearly four years after he was detained, the media outlet said.

He was charged with “publishing false news” and “joining an outlawed group”, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) in Egypt.

It said Abdelaziz was released in December 2019 but detained again later in another case.

“Egyptian authorities have released Al Jazeera journalist Hisham Abdelaziz after he was held for almost four years in pre-trial detention,” Al Jazeera said on its website.

Two more Al Jazeera journalists, Bahauddin Ibrahim and Rabie al-Sheikh, are still being held in Egypt on similar charges.

In September 2022, Egypt released Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed al-Najidi after holding him for two years.

Cash-strapped Egypt has moved considerably closer to Qatar, the gas-rich Gulf emirate, as it seeks to boost its coffers by selling state assets to wealthy Gulf nations.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) considers Egypt one of the world’s main jailers of journalists, with more than 20 reporters currently behind bars.

Rights groups say there are currently 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, with many held on charges of “spreading false news”.

RSF ranks Egypt 168th out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index.