Hisham Abdelaziz, an Egyptian producer at the Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera Mubasher, which has been banned in Egypt since 2013, was arrested in June 2019 at Cairo International Airport. He faces terrorism charges.
Abdelaziz, who was based in Qatar before his arrest, covers social and cultural issues for Al-Jazeera Mubasher’s morning news programs, according to news reports, and a local journalist and press freedom advocate who spoke to CPJ via messaging app on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
On June 20, 2019, authorities stopped Abdelaziz when he went to Cairo International Airport to fly back to Qatar after a family vacation in Egypt, confiscated his passport, and interrogated him for six hours before releasing him, according to news reports and the local journalist.
Abdelaziz returned home, and then went back to the airport later that day after a police officer at the airport called him to pick up his passport, according to those reports.
A few days later, Abdelaziz appeared before the state prosecutor who charged him with membership in a terrorist group and ordered his detention pending trial, according to those reports, and the local journalist.
The local journalist believes Abdelaziz is in custody for having worked with Al-Jazeera.
Prosecutors have repeatedly extended Abdelaziz’s pretrial detention every 45 days, according to the local journalist and the regional rights group the Regional Center for Rights and Freedoms.
In December 2019, a court in Cairo ordered Abdelaziz’s release on bail, but the state prosecutor’s office overturned that order and ordered Abdelaziz’s continued detention, according to his employer, news reports, and the local journalist.
Abdelaziz was not previously included in CPJ’s 2019 or 2020 prison census because his family did not publicize his case until March 2021, when it spoke to local press.
Abdelaziz is currently held in Tora prison in Cairo, and suffers from glaucoma and severe ear problems, ailments that predate his imprisonment. Both conditions require surgery and treatment but Abdelaziz has not received medical care for his health issues since his arrest, according to news reports and the local journalist.
The Ministry of Interior, which oversees the police, the prison system, and the prosecutor general’s office, did not answer CPJ’s emails requesting comment on Abdelaziz’s case in September 2021.