Mahmoud Hussein Gomaa, an Egyptian journalist held without trial for the past two and a half years, is to be released - but only conditionally. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the decision to keep him under judicial control and calls on Egypt's judicial authorities to abandon such abusive procedures.
The news of Gomaa's imminent release was announced on social networks by his daughter. The decision is not effective yet and no date has been specified. In addition, the release will be accompanied by "precautionary measures". According to the information obtained by RSF, the journalist will have to go to the police station twice a week for three hours. Other journalists have been freed recently under such conditions. They include Hisham Gaafar, who has to report his activities to the police.
"This is a just partial victory for Mohamed Hussein Gomaa and we will continue to press for his unconditional release," RSF's Middle East desk said. "The Egyptian authorities must stop imposing such restrictive measures when freeing journalists. It prevents from benefitting fully from their release, limits their movement and, in effect, continues to deprive them of their freedom."
Gomaa was working for Al Jazeera at its Qatar headquarters when he was arrested during a return visit to Egypt to see his family on 23 December 2016. He is one of the many journalists, media lawyers and activists who were charged last year in connection with "Case 441," a case involving the alleged existence of "Muslim Brotherhood media cells." All are accused of terrorism-related offences, including "affiliation or support for a terrorist group" and "dissemination of false news."
Egypt is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index.