Egypt frees journalist couple after 18 months in prison

©Al-Araby Al-Jadeed

Egyptian photojournalist Hossam el-Sayed and his wife Solafa Magdy, an independent journalist, have been released after spending the past year and a half behind bars, their professional association said Wednesday.

Solafa Magdy and her husband Hossam el-Sayed were freed on Tuesday night, the association's president, Diaa Rashwan, announced on Facebook, thanking judicial authorities.

They were arrested in a Cairo cafe in November 2019 and accused of belonging to an unnamed "terrorist" group while Magdy also faced a fake news charge.

They were released without facing any formal charges in a courtroom.

On Monday, prominent dissident journalist and politician Khaled Dawoud also walked free after more than 18 months in detention.

A former head of the liberal opposition Dostour party and senior journalist for the English-language edition of state newspaper Al-Ahram, he had been arrested in September 2019 after rare anti-government protests.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's former army chief, has overseen a massive, crackdown aimed at quashing dissent, jailing many journalists, lawyers, academics and activists.

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Egypt ranks 166th out of 188 countries on Reporters Without Borders (RSF)'s Press Freedom Index.

Rights groups say some 60,000 prisoners of conscience are still languishing in Egyptian jails.