Detained photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid Shawkan’s first trial session will be held on 12 December in a case publicly known as “Rabaa sit-in dispersal” with over 700 other defendants.
Shawkan has exceeded 850 days in detention without trial, despite the legal remand term being set at a maximum of two years maximum.
“Shawkan is depressed and desperate and as a family we are deeply affected,” his brother Mohamed said in a Monday press conference at the Press Syndicate, as a campaign in solidarity with Shawkan that kicked off this week.
“We have had many promises and begged for his release, with no response whatsoever. We presented everything that proves he was on the job when he was arrested at the sit-in over and over but all in vain,” he said.
Mohamed announced that the Free Shawkan Foundation is the new project of the detained photojournalist based in the US, aiming to defend journalists’ rights, freedom of expression, and prisoners of conscience worldwide.
Head of the freedoms committee at the syndicate Khaled El-Balshy said at least 32 journalists were detained. Of these, 18 were detained in cases directly related to their jobs, while some arrested during coverage then faced fabricated charges, while others were accused of belonging to a “banned organisation” without any evidence presented.
“This is only a small part of the violations against journalists in Egypt. We have had at least 150 assaults on journalists recently, others being violated inside prisons by being denied winter clothes and medicine,” El-Balshy stated.
He said in the current week, they filed complaints to the Interior Ministry and general prosecution authorities in solidarity with 18 colleagues who suffer from deteriorating health conditions in detention. Some include urgent cases that require immediate intervention, cases of exceeding pre-trial detention, and complaints demanding the release of journalists held without evidence.
El-Balshy announced the launch of a campaign entitled “We Will Treat and Release Them, Journalism is not a Crime”.