Rights groups call for Ismail Alexandrani’s release as he completes one year in pre-trial detention

Tuesday 29-11-2016 03:33 PM

Egyptian researcher and journalist Ismail Alexandrani

CAIRO, Nov 29 (Aswat Masriya) – A number of human rights groups called for the immediate release of journalist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani as he completes one year in pre-trial detention.

The internationally acclaimed researcher, an expert on Sinai affairs, was arrested on November 29, 2015 in Egypt's Hurghada airport upon his return from a U.S. and Europe seminar tour.

He was accused of spreading false news aiming at damaging the national interest and disturbing the public peace and joining the now banned Muslim Brotherhood group, all of which he denied. 

Last week, the court had ordered Alexandrani’s release pending investigation, but the prosecution appealed the decision, blocking his release. His detention has been extended for 45 more days.

In a statement Tuesday, the organizations called for Alexandrani’s release, along with the release of “the hundreds illegally held in pre-trial detention.”

The prosecution only interrogated Alexandrani twice over the year he’s been detained, according to the statement, which defies the purpose of his detention pending investigation.

“He is considered an example of the continued use of pre-trial detention as punishment,” the statement said, “as well as a continuation of the crackdown on journalists and researchers with different ideologies.”

The statement’s signatories include the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Nazra for Feminist Studies, among others.

Alexandrani is a multiple-award winning journalist and researcher, who has spoken about Sinai affairs in seminars across the world, according to his blog. North Sinai is the site of fighting between insurgents and Egyptian security forces, which say they have killed hundreds of militants over the past months. 

The researcher was nominated in October, along with 22 other journalists, for the 2016 Reporters Without Borders-TV5 Monde Prize for Press Freedom.

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