CAIRO – 5 February 2020: The Qatari authorities has put the life of Egyptian engineer Ali Salem, who it has detained for around a year and a half without clear charges, in danger due to his deteriorating health condition, a Qatari opposition platform reported, citing sources close to Salem.
Salem, who has been working for state-funded Al-Jazeera network was arrested, as they were allegedly funded by Egyptian renowned businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima to help establish an Egyptian platform that is alternative to Qatar's beIN Sports TV network. He faces espionage charges.
The detained engineer has not undergone any medical tests throughout his detention despite his poor health and requests to examine him, the sources said, according to Qatarileaks.
Sources added that Salem is placed in a poor-ventilated room and is given food that is not suitable for his current health conditions.
The Qatari authorities rejected Salem’s lawyer’s requests to transfer the engineer to a central prison instead of solitary confinement, Qatarileaks said, adding that the authorities also refused to place him under house arrest until his trial is over despite his poort health.
Salem’s renowned lawyer, Taher Al-Khouly, described the charges against his client as totally fabricated and have no legal basis, according to a video published in January by a Facebook page calling for releasing Salem.
A close reading of the indictment against Khouly affirms that it cannot be relied on in judgment, said Khouly, a lawyer who represented Khairy Ramadan, a TV host who faced accusations of insulting police in 2018.
While Qatari outlets largely ignore the issue, Egyptian media reports revealed that Salem, a director for the technical sector in beIN Sports TV network, which is a subsidiary of Qatari Al-Jazeera media network, faces charges of spying for Egypt and Saudi Arabia to help the piracy of beIN Sports.
As espionage means harming the economic, political and military affairs of the country, the allegations Salem faces should not be considered an espionage case, Khouly said.
The plaintiff in the case is a private company not a state institution, Khouly said, adding that Salem’s alleged misconduct should be considered a breach to the employment contract not espionage.
Businessman Abu Hashima has denounced the arrest in October, saying in an interview with TV presenter Amr Adib that the indictment of Salem over espionage charges proves that Al-Jazeera network is a "military intelligence organization" rather than a commercial civilian one.
"I work in a professional manner and use the best human cadres in my job, and I knew that sports channels are the locomotive to promote the media system as a whole, and tried to provide a distinctive sports media service for the Egyptian people," Abu Hashima said, referring to ON Sport channel.
An Egyptian-British legal team, along with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and a number of human rights organizations, will file lawsuits against Qatar and beiN Sports, to demand the release of the accused Egyptians, he said.
"The dignity of the Egyptians abroad is part of the dignity of 100 million Egyptians," Abu Hashima said, calling the arrest of the two Egyptians as "manifest injustice."
Al-Jazeera aims to establish "political sports colonialism to influence Arab public opinion," he added.