NUJ appeals for freedom of photo-journalist Shawkan
24 July 2018
The National Union of Journalists has appealed to Egyptian MPs to intervene in the case of the imprisoned journalist and photographer Mahmoud Abu Zeid (known as Shawkhan), who potentially faces the death penalty for just doing his job.
Shawkan was arrested in Cairo during an assignment for the now-dissolved British photo agency Demotix, while covering a police crackdown of protesters on Rabaa Square. The photo-journalist has been behind bars for the past four years and is in poor health, suffering from chronic anaemia and hepatitis C.
The letter signed by Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"We are deeply concerned at allegations that he has been tortured or otherwise ill-treated during his time in custody, and urge you to do all you can to investigate these claims robustly and ensure all necessary healthcare and treatment is provided, pending what we hope will be his speedy release.The NUJ seeks your support to help drop all charges, to stand up to defend press freedom and to stop any further actions against journalists carrying out their work."
There are currently more than 20 journalists thought to be held behind bars in Egypt.
A motion passed by the union's national executive council said it called on the NUJ to:
- urge the Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against Mahmoud Abu Zeid (Shawkhan), and to release him immediately and unconditionally as he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for doing his journalistic work
- protect him from torture and other ill-treatment, pending his release, and provide him with any healthcare he may require
- order an independent and effective investigation into allegations that he has been tortured or otherwise ill-treated while in custody, and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.