Egyptian authorities order release of Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed El-Nagdy

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Amr Kandil , Wednesday 14 Sep 2022

The Egyptian State Security Prosecution ordered on Wednesday the release of Ahmed El-Nagdy, a journalist at the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera TV channel, who was detained in 2020 on charges including spreading false news.

Ahmed El-Nagdy

The authorities arrested the Egyptian journalist, who is in his seventies, in August 2020 when he visiting Egypt, according to Al-Jazeera.

El-Nagdy faced charges of joining an outlawed group that seeks to obstruct the constitution and laws and prevent state authorities from fulfilling their duties.

He also faced charges of disseminating false news with the aim of disrupting public peace in accordance with the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood group, which has been designated by the Egyptian authorities as a terrorist organisation since 2013.

The release of El-Nagdy comes against the backdrop of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s two-day visit to Doha – his first to the Gulf country since assuming the presidency in 2014 – upon the invitation of the Qatari leader.

El-Sisi’s visit saw talks between El-Sisi and Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, during which they discussed enhancing bilateral relations.

The visit comes a few months after the emir visited Egypt for the first time since Cairo and Doha agreed in January 2021 to resume diplomatic relations as part of the Al-Ula Declaration, which was made after an over three-year-long diplomatic rift.

Three Al-Jazeera journalists – Hisham Abdel-Aziz, Bahaa El-Din Ebrahim, and Rabie El-Sheikh – are still detained in Egypt, the Qatari channel said last month. Also, Al-Jazeera presenter Ahmed Taha received a final 15-year prison sentence by the Emergency Supreme State Security Criminal Court in May for disseminating false news.

The release of El-Nagdy comes more than a year after authorities released Egyptian journalist Mahmoud Hussein, a correspondent at Al-Jazeera, in February 2021 after being detained pending trial since 2016 on charges of spreading false news.

The authorities have recently released dozens of pretrial detainees as the government and various political forces prepare for an extensive National Political Dialogue that will discuss pressing political, economic and social issues.

Since the launch of preparations for the national political dialogue in May and the re-activation of the Presidential Pardon Committee in April, President El-Sisi has pardoned a number of high-profile political activists who had received final prison sentences, including journalist Hisham Fouad as well as Hossam Mones, and Yahia Abdel-Hady.

In July, Dialogue Coordinator Diaa Rashwan said more than 700 prisoners had been released by the prosecution or given a presidential pardon since El-Sisi called for the National Dialogue in April.

Seven members of the Journalists Syndicate remain behind bars, with the same number of imprisoned journalists who are not syndicate members, said Rashwan, who is also the head of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate.

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