Freelance producer Khaled Abdel Wahed Radwan is serving a 15-year sentence in Egypt on charges related to his work on an Al-Jazeera documentary that featured leaked documents. The journalist’s wife said that Radwan has been held in solitary confinement since December 2018.
Radwan, a former managing producer for the television channel Misr 25, which police raided and sealed in 2013, was approached by documentary film producer and Islamist political activist Ahmed Afifi, in October 2013, for help making a documentary for Al-Jazeera, according to news reports. Afifi was a co-defendant in the case.
On May 7, 2016, a Cairo criminal court convicted Radwan and 10 co-defendants of espionage for allegedly helping to smuggle secret documents to Qatari intelligence officers and the Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera, according to news reports. Three other journalists, Ibrahim Helal, former news director at Al-Jazeera’s Arabic news channel, Al-Jazeera producer Alaa Omar Mohammed Sablan, and Asmaa Al-Khatib, a former news editor for the pro-Muslim Brotherhood news website Rassd, were among the co-defendants.
In a statement that he gave to court during the trial, Radwan said that Afifi asked him to assist in script-writing and producing a segment for Al-Jazeera featuring documents that Al-Khatib had obtained from the former president’s office, news outlets reported. He said that he helped send the documents to the Qatari broadcaster for journalistic purposes. The court listed documentation of wire transfers Radwan received from Al-Jazeera as evidence against him.
The documents listed in the case include a memorandum dated May 2013 from Mahmoud Hegazy, then the head of Military Intelligence, to then-President Mohammed Morsi, recommending that the president work more closely with Hamas to maintain stability in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to news reports.
A copy of the court’s verdict, published on June 18, 2016, said that Radwan was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor and a fine of 175,000 Egyptian pounds (US$10,000) according to news reports. Helal, Sablan, and Al-Khatib, who were tried in absentia after they all left the country, were sentenced to death. On September 16, 2017, the Court of Cassation upheld the sentence against Radwan, but removed the hard labor component, according to a video of the hearing published by local news website Al-Yom al-Sabee.
On January 19, 2017, a Cairo criminal court listed Radwan on the country’s “terrorism list,” according to news reports. Under Egypt’s counterterrorism law, approved by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in August 2015, individuals on the “terrorism list” are banned, for five years, from traveling, renewing passports, and working in the public sector. They are also subject to an asset freeze.
On September 16, 2017, the Court of Cassation rejected the journalist’s appeal, which means the verdict cannot be overturned, according to Radwan’s wife, Fatma al-Zahraa Zakareya, and news reports.
Radwan is imprisoned in the Scorpion maximum security facility of the Tora Prison Complex in Cairo, according to Zakareya.
Zakareya told the opposition news website Freedom and Justice Gate in January 2018 that prison authorities denied Radwan access to crucial medical care. The journalist had surgery for a hernia on January 17, 2018, but did not see a doctor for five days afterwards and no doctor supervised his recovery, she said.
Zakareya told CPJ in 2019 that prison authorities denied Radwan medical treatment for his stomach ulcer and acid reflux, and the poor quality of prison meals had exacerbated his pain. As of September 2022, he continues to be held in solitary confinement, where he suffers from a stomach ulcer and acid reflux and is also suffering from a stomach hernia and osteoarthritis, conditions for which he continues to be denied medical treatment, she told CPJ.
Zakareya told CPJ in September 2022 that she has been unable to visit her husband since April 2017; she said she keeps up to date on his condition by attending hearings of other inmates who provide her with information.
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 Radwan’s case in September 2022.