Cairo-Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is dismayed to learn that Egyptian journalist Ismail Alexandrani’s ten-year prison sentence was upheld by a Cairo military court on 24 December. RSF reiterates its call for the immediate release of this journalist and academic, who specializes in the Sinai.
Alexandrani’s conviction on charges of “divulging state secrets” and “membership of a banned group" and his ten-year jail term were upheld at a hearing held in his presence. The fact that the sentence was originally passed in his absence and without his knowledge on 22 May and the lack of any ensuing official confirmation had given rise to confusion.
“After more than three years in preventive detention, more than the legal limit, a military court has imposed a long jail sentence on civilian who is a respected journalist,” RSF’s Middle East desk said.
“Nonetheless, Ismail Alexandrani did not commit any crime, aside from the crime of irritating the regime and the army by what he reported and what he wrote. We strongly condemn this iniquitous and disproportionate sentence and we call for his immediate and unconditional release.”
Arrested on landing at Hurghada airport on 29 November 2015, Alexandrani is well known as a journalist and researcher who has specialized in writing about Jihadi groups in the North Sinai. He is also known as a critic of the Egyptian government and the army’s role in politics.
A nominee for the RSF’s Press Freedom Prize in 2016, he is a research fellow at the Arab Reform Initiative in Paris and was a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Centrein Washington. He has reported for MadaMasr,Safir Arabi, Al Jazeera English, the Forum for Arab and International Relations and the French magazine Orient XXI.
Egypt is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.