Photojournalist Shawkan’s detention extended indefinitely

Mahmoud Mostafa
3 Min Read
Shawkan was arrested whilst he covered the security forces’ dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda Squares sit-ins in August 2013 (Photo from Freedom for Shawkan)

The Cairo Criminal Court extended the pretrial detention of photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zied, also known as Shawkan, indefinitely.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zied, also known as Shawkan (Photo from Freedom for Shawkan)
Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zied, also known as Shawkan
(Photo from Freedom for Shawkan)

The well known photojournalist has already been detained for 552 days without trial.

In a letter of distress sent out of prison earlier this month, Shawkan described his imprisonment as “without logic, without trial, and without law. Just charges on paper.”

Arrested on 14 August 2013 while covering the forced dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in supporting ousted president Mohamed Morsi, Shawkan faces several charges. These include attempted murder, possession of weapons and ammunition, threatening public peace, disrupting the constitution, and sabotaging public and private property.

The Cairo Criminal Court decided Thursday to release three Al Jazeera journalists pending their retrial, which has been postponed to 23 February. The judge ordered the release of Mohamed Fahmy, who is Canadian, on a bail of EGP 250,000 while Egyptian Baher Mohamed was freed without bail.

Fahmy has given up his Egyptian citizenship to qualify for deportation to Canada. Australian co-defendant Peter Greste has already been released and was deported on 1 February.

The three Al Jazeera journalists were arrested in December 2013 and accused of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood against Egypt. They were sentenced to seven and 10 years in prison last June.

Shawkan offered his condolences to journalists with Egyptian nationality in his aforementioned letter and expressed the willingness to drop it for his freedom. He believes that the reason behind the release of Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy was having another nationality or a major institution standing along their side.

The arrest and unjust imprisonment of the Al Jazeera journalists rightly prompted international condemnation, but other journalists imprisoned in Egypt deserve the same attention, HRW said in a statement on Friday after the release of the Al Jazeera journalists.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked Egypt third among the most dangerous countries for journalists in 2013, and Reporters Without Borders named it one of the five worst countries for jailing journalists in 2014.

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