Shawkan: I am a photojournalist, not a criminal

Shawkan: I am a photojournalist, not a criminal
Tuesday, 24 March 2015 Written by Rory Peck Trust

Family fear for the health of Egyptian freelancer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, who has now spent more than 18 months in prison without charge.

Last May we highlighted the situation of Egyptian freelance photographer, Mahmoud Abou Zeid - known as Shawkan - who had been in prison for 262 days without charge.  We couldn't have imagined that almost twelve months later he would still be incarcerated. 

The Trust has supported Shawkan's family since his detention and we are in regular contact with his brother, Mohammed. He was desperate to raise awareness of Shawkan's situation and asked us to publicise the Freedom for Shawkan Facebook page, which he had set up to campaign for his release.

In eighteen months, nothing has changed for the 28 year old who is being detained in Cairo's Tora prison. After a visit with him earlier this month - the first in more than a year - Shawkan's mother found her son visibly sick and depressed. His family say they are deeply concerned for his welfare.
In December 2014, Shawkan wrote an open letter describing his daily routine: "I spend twenty two hours each day locked in this small, dark cell with twelve others. For two hours I am moved into a small cage under a sun that I can barely feel...", and protesting his innocence: "I am a photojournalist, not a criminal."

Amnesty International, who have since taken up Shawkans' case as a prisoner of conscience, are calling for urgent action to get the freelancer released.  They are asking people to send written appeals before 15th April to Egypt's Public Prosecutor and Minister of Justice, urging them to drop all charges, and grant Shawkan access to his lawyer, a medical team and protection from further ill treatment.  You can download this PDF for further details of what to do.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), are also including Shawkan as one of the journalists in their forthcoming campaign, Press Uncuffed, which will "highlight some of the most egregious and exemplary cases of imprisoned journalists".  It launches on Thursday 26 March. 

And Mohammed Fahmy, the Al Jazeera journalist who was recently released from Tora prison on bail, pending his appeal, has taken up Shawkan's case through his newly-established Fahmy Foundation.  

Having the active support of such high profile advocacy organisations brings some optimism and hope that Shawkan will soon find justice.  Until then, we will continue to provide support for his family and help to raise awareness of his situation. 

Image courtesy of Freedom for Shawkan Facebook Page

Comments

All comments are moderated
comments powered by Disqus

This website uses cookies. For more information about these please click here.
By continuing to browse you consent to the use of cookies