Egypt frees Al Jazeera journalist detained since 2016
An Egyptian court has ordered the release of Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein, detained since 2016 on allegations of spreading false news and defaming Egypt's reputation.
Hussein, an Egyptian journalist working for the Qatar-based satellite network, was detained at the Cairo airport in December 2016, when he arrived on a family vacation from Doha.
No official charges were ever raised against him and Hussein didn't stand trial.
The Doha-based Al Jazeera broadcaster reported the news on its website Thursday, saying Hussein "was arrested without formal charges and kept in prison for 881 days".
His daughter, Az-Zahra Hussein, said on Facebook that her father will be released "with precautionary measures" - likely meaning he'll have to report regularly to police - and that he's soon to be transferred from prison to a station.
Al Jazeera, which is banned in Egypt, has in the past had several of its journalists imprisoned in the country, including Abdullah Elshamy, Baher Mohammed, Mohammed Fahmy and Peter Greste. All four have since been released.
Egyptian authorities also sentenced former editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, Ibrahim Helal, to death in absentia for allegedly endangering national security.
The government has blocked hundreds of websites, including those of several independent media outlets, as part of a sweeping crackdown on dissent.
All major media outlets still operating in Egypt support the government.
Human rights groups regularly criticise moves by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's government to curtail free speech.
Egypt is currently placed 163 out of 180 countries in the press freedom rankings of global media rights organisation Reporters Without Borders.
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