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Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Al Jazeera hunger-striking reporter released after 309 days in jail

Granted medical release by Egypt's prosecutor-general, Abdullah El-Shamy was released from his 11-month detention late on Tuesday, along with 12 others

Ahram Online, Wednesday 18 Jun 2014
El-Shamy while speaking to media immediately after his release (Photo: courtesy of Mosa`ab El-Shamy)

After being held 11 months in detention, Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah El-Shamy was released on Tuesday night, along with 12 others.

"After spending 309 days in prison, I am now released. Freedom is granted to those who will remain faithful to it," El-Shamy said immediately upon his release to cheering supporters outside the police station in northeast Cairo.

The 26-year-old journalist then stressed, "I insist that I was politically detained and not arrested."

El-Shamy declared that despite the various pressures he suffered in prison, the solitary confinement and the false information that purported he was not on a hunger strike, he still believed in his case and his eventual release.

"I missed my freedom, I missed my life, my life stopped on August 14 at 6pm when I was moved to a place I did not wish to be," El-Shamy said.

"This is only the beginning. I am more determined to carry on this struggle than before."

Dozens awaited El-Shamy's appearance outside the prison, among them his wife and family who welcomed him with hugs and tears.

All 13 detainees were granted medical release on Monday by Egypt's prosecutor-general.

The names of the 12 other detainees granted medical release are: Moezz Arafa, Ibrahim El-Shafei, Mahmoud Ahmed, Mahmoud Salam, Mohamed El-Ashry, Abdel-Qader Hamady, Khaled Abdel-Razeq, Mahmoud El-Shazly, Moustafa Gomaa, Yasser Mahmoud Abdel-Atif, Mohamed El-Sawy and Yehya Hassan.

The network expressed relief in a statement issued shortly after El-Shamy's release.

"This is a relief rather than a cause for celebration. Abdullah has been through a terrible ordeal for over 10 months," Al Jazeera English quoted its spokesman as saying. "We look forward to seeing him back in action, doing the vital job of journalism that he so clearly loves," the network added.

"We would like to thank all who supported Abdullah's cause; millions on social media, international and humanitarian organisations, media outlets which covered the case professionally and public figures across the world who expressed their support to Abdullah on several levels, proving their strong belief in freedom of journalism and its role."

Last week, an Egyptian court renewed El-Shamy's detention for another 45 days – despite reports that he had lost nearly a third of his body weight and was in poor health as a result of the hunger strike.

El-Shamy had been in detention since he was rounded up on 14 August, when police dispersed major protest camps held in Cairo by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, leaving hundreds killed.

He faces allegations that include inciting violence, rioting, and disrupting public order. He has yet to be referred to trial.

El-Shamy's lawyer said he appeared to be suffering "severe fatigue" during last week's hearing held at a courthouse in Torah Prison on the southern outskirts of Cairo.

Three other Al Jazeera journalists – including an Australian national – who work for the network's English-language channel have been held in Egypt since December 2013.

They face trial over allegations of airing false news and aiding or joining the Muslim Brotherhood movement, designated last December by authorities as a terrorist group.

Al Jazeera strongly dismisses the charges against all of its journalists and continues to call for their immediate release.



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