Egypt releases 2 journalists after 17 months in detention

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities Wednesday released two local journalists after spending about a year and a half in pre-trial detention, their lawyer and family members said, the latest in a series of releases in recent months.

Solafa Magdy and her husband Hossam el-Sayyad arrived at their home in Cairo, Magdy’s mother Taghred Zahran said. She posted a photo on Facebook showing the couple hugging their child.

The freelance journalists were released pending an investigation into whether they disseminated false news, misused social media platforms and joined an outlawed group, said lawyer Khaled Ali. Magdy is a multimedia reporter and el-Sayyad is a photographer.

Magdy and her husband were detained in a Cairo district in November 2019. At the time, she was an outspoken critic of the arrest of rights activist Esraa Abdel Fattah, who remains in detention.

Their release came a day after authorities freed Khaled Dawoud, an opposition leader and former head of the liberal Dostour, or Constitution political party. He spent more than a year and a half in pre-trial detention.

The Egyptian government has in recent years waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands of people, mainly Islamists, but also several well-known secular activists.

Journalists have also been targeted, with dozens imprisoned and some foreign journalists expelled. Egypt remains among the world’s worst jailers of journalists, along with Turkey and China, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.