Daily News Egypt

Fate of imprisoned journalists remains uncertain amid poor health conditions - Daily News Egypt

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Fate of imprisoned journalists remains uncertain amid poor health conditions

Appeal to release Youssef Shaaban rejected, Alexandrani’s detention renewed for ninth time

The Alexandria Misdemeanour Court rejected an appeal to release journalist Youssef Shaaban and political activist Loay El-Kahwagi.

A previous appeal was also rejected in late December 2015. The appeal was presented to release Shaban, El-Kahwagi, and prominent lawyer Mahienour El-Massry. They are charged with breaking into Al-Raml police station in Alexandria.

Loay’s sister, Mai El-Kahwagi, told Daily News Egypt this is not the first time an appeal was rejected and the accusations on which he is charged are not relevant.

The case dates back to mid-2013 when Egypt was under Muslim Brotherhood rule. A group of lawyers started a sit-in in front of El-Raml police station in Alexandria, demanding an official apology from the Interior Ministry regarding the injury of their fellow lawyer at the hands of police personnel. The lawyers were then arrested and accused of attempting to break into the police station.

El-Kahwagi said: “During the El-Raml station events a group of lawyers filed a report against the injury of their fellow lawyer. Police conscripts came and dispersed the assembly and then damaged the station facade, yet they accused the lawyers of causing the riot.”

After the overthrow of the Brotherhood regime in July 2013, the defendants were released. However the case was reopened in 2014 and the court issued a verdict against the defendants, sentencing them to two years in prison.

Later, Shabaan and El-Massry were temporarily released on bail, pending a decision on the appeal, and Al-Kahwagi remained in prison. The appeal reduced their sentence to one year and three months in May 2015.

Shabaan, a journalist for Al-Bedaiah news website, is infected with hepatitis C.  His health has severely deteriorated due to limited medical treatment in prison, according to his wife Ranwa Youssef.

Earlier this month, he underwent examinations in a nearby hospital outside of the prison but he paid these medical expenses according to his lawyer.  The examination results are still unknown after nearly three weeks.

Meanwhile, journalist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani’s detention was renewed for the ninth time on Sunday by the National Security Prosecution.

One of his defence lawyers Hazem Mohamed, who works for the Arab Network for Human Rights and Information (ANHRI), told Daily News Egypt there has been no response to any of the defence’s demands since his arrest.

“He is currently suffering a sinus problem and needs to undergo an operation before the summer so as not to face further complications in his breathing.”

“We also demanded his release, pending investigations with restrictive measures, as in Mohamed Al-Zawhri’s case, but they refused,” he added.

According to Mohamed, Ismail has been in detention for more than 120 days. When  150 days has passed, the prosecution will refer him to a specialised court. “We expect that the criminal court will be more responsive to our demands,” he said

Alexandrani is charged with belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group and was arrested after taking part in a conference on terroristic ideologies in Berlin. He was detained upon his arrival at Hurghada airport. The Egyptian embassy in Berlin sent a complaint against him, which is widely believed to be the cause of his arrest.

“We presented all the documents that ensure he is not member of the Brotherhood. This includes all the articles he wrote criticising them. The prosecution also has no evidence of the charges.  But it seems the decision of his detention is coming from high-ranking authorities,” Mohamed concluded.

An estimated 42 journalists are either in detention or at risk of being detained. This includes 20 cases related to the practice of the journalistic profession, out of which seven were handed prison sentences in absentia, while eight journalists are under investigation following reports filed by former minister of justice Ahmed Al-Zind.

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