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Egypt journalist dies of coronavirus days after being released from detention

Mohamed Monir was originally arrested in mid-June over charges including 'membership of a terrorist group'
An image of Mohamed Monir from Facebook (FB)

A prominent Egyptian journalist has died from coronavirus just days after being released from detention in Cairo.

Mohamed Monir - a former chief editor of Al-Diyar newspaper and deputy editor of Youm7 newspaper - was arrested in mid-June and charged with "membership of a terrorist group, dissemination of false news and improper use of social networks".

He was released on 2 July but his daughter Sarah Monir announced last week that he had been hospitalised with the Covid-19 virus.

In a Facebook post on Monday evening she announced that he had died.

His arrest, widely criticised by rights groups, came after he appeared on Al Jazeera's news network. Egypt labels the channel as a mouthpiece for the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, a charge Qatar, which owns the network, denies.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Monir suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure and serious heart problems.

The US-based group said it was "extremely disturbed" by his death following his release from Cairo's Tora Prison.

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"Egyptian authorities must release all journalists held for their work, as even brief detentions amid the Covid-19 pandemic can mean a death sentence," said its regional director Sherif Mansour.

Monir's arrest came as Egypt steps up a crackdown on the press, which it has been waging since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president a year after leading the military's 2013 overthrow of his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt and its Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates accuse Qatar of backing Islamist groups and using Al Jazeera to stir dissent in the Arab world. Doha denies the accusations.

In May, the CPJ documented the arrests of at least four Egyptian journalists, including Sameh Haneen, a Coptic Christian who also faces charges of joining a terrorist organisation. 

The group ranks Egypt as the third biggest jailer of journalists in the world, behind China and Turkey.