Egyptian authorities released Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein, who was held in pre-trial detention for four years.
Mr. Hussein, an Egypt national held under preventive detention since December 2016, was released from jail on Saturday, Al Jazeera reported.
His release is coming days after Egypt, part of a bloc with gulf countries, reconciled with Qatar following years of a diplomatic rift.
Hussein’s release might have come after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt last month agreed in the gulf summit to restore diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar. One of the demands of the Saudi coalition was for Qatar to shut down Aljazeera. Qatar rejected all the conditions.
Mr Hussein, 54, had been detained over a year before the Qatar blockade on allegations of ‘spreading false information’ and affiliation with the banned group, Muslim Brotherhood. He was never formally charged to court.
According to Al Jazeera, Egypt’s ministry of interior publicly accused him of “disseminating false news and receiving monetary funds from foreign authorities in order to defame the state’s reputation.”
While welcoming the news of his release, Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of the TV network, said “No journalist should ever be subjected to what Mahmoud has suffered for the past four years for merely carrying out his profession.”
Hussein gained air of freedom hours after a Punch newspaper journalist, Okechukwu Nnodim, and two others with whom he was abducted late Wednesday, were also released.
Nnodim and two sons of his neighbour were kidnapped by gunmen who shot their way into their home in Kubwa area of Abuja at about 11 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We were told last night that they had been released, but they came home this morning,” Oluchi Nnodim, wife of the kidnapped journalist told newsmen on Sunday.
It was not known whether ransom was paid, but the kidnappers had demanded N10 million ransom for his release.
Mrs. Nnodim could not confirm if money exchanged hands before her husband’s release.