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Egypt extends detention of Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Hussein

Detention of Al Jazeera journalist renewed for seventh time since he was arrested on December 20.

An Egyptian court has extended the detention, without charge, of Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein for another 45 days.

Egyptian authorities announced the seventh extension on Thursday since Hussein was arrested in December last year.

Hussein, an Egyptian national based in Qatar, was stopped, questioned and arrested by authorities on December 20, after travelling to Cairo for a holiday.

Five days after his initial arrest, Egypt's interior ministry accused him of "disseminating false news and receiving monetary funds from foreign authorities in order to defame the state's reputation".

Since then, he has been detained for 237 days, suffering mistreatment and being denied his legal rights.

Al Jazeera has rejected the allegations against him and urges his unconditional release.

"Al Jazeera Media Network rejects all the baseless allegations against Hussein, and condemns the unfair detention, in addition to obtaining false confessions by force. Furthermore, the network holds the Egyptian authorities responsible for Hussein’s safety and well-being," the network had said in a previous statement.

A US-based advocacy group Robert F Kennedy Human Rights filed a petition with the United Nations in April demanding Hussein to be set free.

Human rights and media organisations have denounced Hussein's detention and called for his immediate release.

Hussein's daughter, Zahra, told Al Jazeera in March that he suffers from harsh and inhumane conditions that have led to deterioration in his health and caused him shortness of breath.

Media crackdown

Over the past few years, Egyptian authorities have arrested several Al Jazeera employees, raising concerns over media freedom in the country.

In May 2016, a Cairo court sentenced a former editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, Ibrahim Helal, to death, charging him in absentia with endangering national security. 

Al Jazeera's Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste - along with seven colleagues outside the country - were accused of spreading "false news" during their coverage of the aftermath of the military overthrow of then-president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the year they were taken into custody.

Mohamed and Fahmy spent 437 days in jail before being released. Greste spent more than a year in prison.

The judge who sentenced the journalists said they were brought together "by the devil" to destabilise the country.


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