Threatened with solitary confinement for his hunger strike, started 21 January, imprisoned Al-Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy released a letter from Tora Prison which was posted to Facebook by his brother, photographer Mosa’ab Elshamy.
After months of imprisonment without formal charges, the senior Elshamy remains defiant, inviting people to read his work for Al-Jazeera themselves. “I take pride in my work… I will always say that regardless of where I was.”
“I do not regret any day I’ve stayed in this place,” Elshamy writes. “Neither have I made any offense against any human being nor participated in the falsification of anyone’s consciousness.”
Elshamy reiterates that he is innocent of all charges and decries the present atmosphere in which journalists work, saying he takes “no interest in what is being said in the local media about me or my colleagues,” and that “We are witnesses of freedom and will always be remembered as that.”
The imprisoned Elshamy says he hopes to send two messages with his strike; first to “journalists who choose to falsify the facts and cover up for the violations of freedoms and media,” and secondly to “the Egyptian junta, that I do not fear losing my life in my struggle for freedom.”
“Nothing will break my will or dignity.”
A move to solitary confinement would likely mean less light, freedom and air for the imprisoned Elshamy, who was arrested while covering the Rabaa sit-in dispersal for the Qatari Al-Jazeera.
The network is largely blamed by Egyptian masses as being sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. On 30 August, Egyptian security forces raided Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr’s offices, a day after the government said that the channel works without legal backing or “professional ethics”.
Security forces confiscated broadcasting equipment, claiming that the Qatari news service was a threat to “national security”.
In December, security forces arrested four members of an Al-Jazeera crew working from a hotel room in Cairo in what is widely decried as a politicised case. In his letter, Elshamy says of his imprisoned colleagues, “our freedom will prevail”.
Elshamy has been in prison for over 160 days without charges. “There is no life here,” he wrote from his cell, a space of 12 metres, shared by 16 men.
In late December, 450 Muslim Brotherhood members and 18 Rabaa detainees, Elshamy reportedly among them, went on a hunger strike to protest their ill-treatment and dire conditions.