Mahmoud Hussein Gomaa

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Gomaa was arrested on December 23, 2016, according to Al-Jazeera. Officials initially questioned Gomaa on December 20 when he arrived in Egypt on a family visit from Qatar, where he is based, according to reports.

Egypt's Interior Ministry confirmed in a December 25 statement published on its website that Gomaa was being held on charges of "incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos." The ministry said that Gomaa worked with Al-Jazeera to produce fake documentaries about the country's institutions. Authorities ordered him to initially be detained for 15 days pending investigation, Al-Jazeera reported. In a statement on its website, Al-Jazeera described the charges against Gomaa as fabricated and said that it was concerned for his safety.

The arrest came after Al-Jazeera broadcast a documentary, "Al-Asaker" (The Soldiers), in November 2016, about conscription in Egypt. The documentary was criticized in Egypt by government officials and local media, who said that it attempted to incite against the armed forces and alleged that it used fake footage.

The journalist’s daughter, Aya Mahmoud, told CPJ in October 2017 that prison authorities have denied the journalist medical care for a fractured wrist that needs surgery.

On December 25, 2016, pro-government and state-run media broadcast police videos of Gomaa that they described as confessions. A narrator in one of the interviews, which were filmed in several locations, claimed that the videos showed evidence against Gomaa. Two of the videos showed him standing by production equipment that he said Al-Jazeera asked him to keep in his family's homes after the broadcaster was forced to close its Egyptian office in 2013.

The journalist’s detention has been repeatedly renewed every 45 days, according to the local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture and a social media post from Al-Jazeera director Yasser Abu Hilalah.  

Some lawyers and pro-government media in Egypt say that under the law, national security prosecutors can repeatedly renew detention periods until a trial begins.

Gomma is detained in Cairo’s Tora Prison Complex, according to the Egyptian Observatory for Journalism and Media. No trial date was set by late 2018, according to his daughter and the Egyptian Observatory for Journalism and Media.


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