The Press Syndicate’s Freedoms Committee, led by Khaled El-Balshy, launched a new campaign Tuesday, with the aim of supporting detained journalists.
In a press conference at the syndicate, a campaign titled “Freedom to the pen” was born among the families of several imprisoned journalists, including Mahmoud Abou Zeid, better known as Shawkan, who have become accustomed to visiting the syndicate to campaign for his release.
Shawkan was arrested while covering the bloody dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in and has been jailed without trial since August 2013. On Monday, he spent his fourth birthday in prison.
“Shawkan has served the longest period of pre-trial detention,” said El-Balshy.
“His health has deteriorated,” said Shawkan’s father, who expressed despair because his son has not received any medical care.
“We will not forget you,” said formerly detained journalist Youssef Shaaban during the conference. “Our demands are simply that those who are ill receive proper medical treatment,” he said.
Shaaban himself had been the subject of the committee’s cause under a previous campaign that supported those imprisoned, titled “We will treat them”, which had focused on journalists suffering from poor health conditions without treatment in prison. Shaaban, a Hepatitis C patient, spent nearly a year in jail in without proper medical care.
Other journalists have faced accusations of belonging to the illegal Muslim Brotherhood orginisation.
This comes after a recent report issued by the Journalists Against Torture Observatory (JATO), which highlighted the hardship journalists face while doing their job. Three journalists were arrested recently while taking footage near their own syndicate in downtown Cairo.
The location has been widely popular among journalists for taking footage or interviewing random people. Yet, the trio from that case continues to be held without charges.