Egypt's prison authorities have started procedures to release Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid – known as Shawkan – and 214 others who have served five-year prison terms for their involvement in a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in at Cairo's Rabaa El-Adaweya in 2013.
Shawkan, 32, is a freelance photojournalist who was arrested in August 2013 while covering the dispersal of the Rabaa El-Adawiya sit-in, where supporters of ex-president Mohamed Morsi had gathered to protest his ouster.
Shawkan was among 214 defendants who were convicted in 2018 on several charges including murder, attempted murder, assault on police and citizens, vandalism and the burning and destruction of public and private property.
Shawkan and the other defendants are set to be released as the jail time they spent in pre-trial detention goes towards time served.
Shawkan will be placed under five years probation after his release.
Since his detention in 2013, many local and international human rights organisations have criticised Shawkan's imprisonment, saying he was merely doing his job as a freelance photojournalist when covering the Muslim Brotherhood sit-in.
In April 2018, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) announced that Shawkan was selected to receive the 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize.
“The choice of Mahmoud Abu Zeid pays tribute to his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” said Maria Ressa, president of the jury, UNESCO, in a media statement.
Egypt's foreign ministry in a statement at the time that it regrets UNESCO's decision to award the prize to Shawkan.