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Egypt: Wife of imprisoned Egyptian journalist renews calls for his release

Wife of Hisham Abdel Aziz makes plea for help online, saying her husband needs urgent surgery for failing eyesight
The Al Jazeera Mubasher journalist was detained in Egypt on a family holiday in 2019 (Screengrab/Twitter)

The wife of an imprisoned Egyptian journalist has made an urgent plea online for her husband’s health, stating that Hisham Abdel Aziz, 43, an Al Jazeera Mubasher journalist, needs urgent care. 

In a tweet on Wednesday, Samira El Taher said she felt despair and helplessness at her husband’s case, and doesn't know what to do to draw attention to his rapidly deteriorating situation.

Translation: What am I supposed to do in order to save my husband’s life? To save him from blindness within prison… what shall I do for Hisham Abdel Aziz’s case to be trending and to remind people that he is sick, behind bars for two and a half years? Should I shave my head like Shireen? Or sing it like the singer Shaimaa?

In a tweet last week, following a visit to see her husband, Taher also confirmed that as a result of lack of care he has fully lost the sight in his right eye, and his left eye is significantly weaker. 

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“I brought some eye drops for him, and he told me there’s no need for them any more because they don’t bring any results. Hisham, after losing his vision completely in his right eye, needs to be released urgently to be treated for his left eye,” she said.

She also relayed a message from Abdel Aziz.

“From what Hisham said to me yesterday during the visit: ‘I am an Egyptian journalist, who only expresses my own opinions, I have never had any affiliations of any kind, and I have never wrote a single word about my country… my work was all social programmes which had nothing to do with politics. Why am I imprisoned, I don't know? And until when? I’m exhausted.”

Abdel Aziz suffers from glaucoma, and underwent two operations on his right eye prior to his arrest in June 2019 at Cairo airport. Without the proper medical care in prison, his eyesight has worsened behind bars. 

The father of three was on an annual holiday to Egypt when he was interrogated and had his personal belongings searched at the airport. 

According to the Arab Organization for Human Rights, Abdel Aziz was accused of belonging to a banned group, and he remained in custody until December 2019. After a decision to release him was issued on a 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,275) bail, he went missing again and reappeared in Tora prison, where he is held under new allegations. 

His wife has previously used social media and an online hashtag to raise concerns over her husband’s condition. The hashtags "Free Hisham" and "Freedom for Hisham Abdel Aziz" have amassed popular support since 2019.

Earlier this year, Taher tweeted to say that her husband told her he may not be able to write her letters, due to his deteriorating eyesight.

Rights groups, including Egyptian organisation We Record, have previously highlighted Abdel Aziz’s condition, calling for his immediate release.

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