AFTE: Journalist still detained despite expiration of pretrial detention limit

Journalist Ismail Iskandarani completed on Wednesday two years in pretrial detention since his arrest in November 2015 from Hurghada International Airport, surpassing the limit for pretrial detention, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.

The ongoing detention of Iskandarani is, as of Wednesday, in contradiction with article 143 of the Criminal Procedures Law 150/1950, making his release legally necessary, said AFTE in a statement.

Article 143 stipulates that in all cases pretrial detention during investigations shall not exceed two-thirds of the mandated prison sentence based on the charges the defendant is facing, which totals a maximum of six months for misdemeanour cases, 18 months for criminal cases, or two years if the expected sentence for the defendant is a life sentence or capital punishment.

Iskandarani’s defense will submit on a legal memorandum to the public prosecutor on Sunday December 3, demanding the release of the defendant. The next scheduled court session regarding Iskandarani’s detention is set for December 14, 15 days after the end of the pretrial detention limit, said AFTE.

Iskandarani was arrested from Hurghada International Airport following his return from Berlin, where he participated in a conference, six months after an arrest warrant was issued. The prosecution then charged him with joining and supporting a banned organization, and with spreading false news liable to disturbing public security and harm public interest.

At the time Iskandarani denied these charges, saying that the writings in question were of a journalistic nature. His publications include articles in Beirut-based newspapers Al-Safir Arabic and Al-Modon, which called the new Suez Canal a delusion, criticised the state’s war on Sinai-based militants, and used local sources to report details on the Armed Forces’ battle with militants in the Western Desert.

Ismail Iskandarani is a freelance journalist and researcher who specializes in issues of Islamist groups and Sinai coverage. He has been published in various Egyptian and Arab publications.