The Cairo Criminal Court renewed Monday the pre-trial detention of photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zied, also known as Shawkan, along with 103 others for a further 45 days.
The Egyptian photojournalist has been in prison for over 600 days without trial, as the prosecution has repeatedly renewed his pre-trial detention. Shawkan also suffers from health issues.
Shawkan is detained in Tora Prison with other political detainees, despite others accused in the same case having been released pending trial, according to his brother Mohamed.
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.
Two foreign journalists, Louis James and Mike Giglio, were arrested along with Shawkan, however they were released shortly after.
“I am a journalist not a criminal,” Shawkan said in a leaked letter from prison, marking World Press Freedom Day.
“I don’t know when this nightmare is going to end, just because I was doing my job as a photojournalist during the operation of the dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya protest camp. Somehow, I’m considered a ‘supporter of the deposed president Morsi’,” the letter read.
Amnesty International released a statement on 27 February calling for urgent action concerning the case of Shawkan, referring to him as “a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for his journalistic work”.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked Egypt among the world’s worst 10 jailers of journalists in 2014. CPJ had 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.