Egypt's journalists’ syndicate to hold protest for detained journalists release Wednesday

Hana Afifi , Tuesday 8 Dec 2015

News photographers and journalists protest against the detention of photojournalist Abou Zeid, also known as "Shawkan", in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo February 8, 2015 (File photo: Reuters)

Egypt's journalists’ syndicate freedoms committee is organising a standing protest to be held Wednesday evening in front of the syndicate building to call for the release and medical treatment of detained journalists.

After the protest, participants will hold a conference as part of the campaign entitled "We will provide medical care and ensure their release, journalism is not a crime" campaign, which was launched Monday by the syndicate.

There are currently 32 journalists (not only syndicate members) detained in various cases, including 18 in cases related to journalism, Khaled El-Balshy, head of the liberties committee at the journalists’ syndicate, told Ahram Online.

Between seven and nine of these detained journalists are in dire need of medical care.

Hani Salah El-Din, ex-managing editor of Al-Youm Al-Sabe' newspaper, suffers from a tumor, his family says.

Al-Badil newspaper journalist Youssef Shaaban and photojournalist Shawkan (Mahmoud Abo-Zeid) suffer from Hepatitis C, while Akhbar Al-Youm journalist Mohamed Saber El-Battawy has contracted skin diseases due to the prison’s poor conditions.

Other journalists are also detained and suffering from various diseases, El-Balshy said.

Shawkan's first trial session is set for December 12. He has been in pre-trial detention for over two years after being arrested while covering the violent dispersal of Rabaa sit-in in August 2013. 

El-Balshy said the journalists do not receive medicine or winter clothing.

The syndicate has not sought a permit for the standing protest, as it should not require one due to its location, El-Balshy said.

"The protest is on the syndicate's stairs, hence within the premises of the syndicate, not in the streets," El-Balshy explained.

In August, the Journalists Syndicate filed several reports to the country's top prosecutor, demanding the release of Shawkan and calling for better healthcare for Youssef Shaaban and Magdy Hussein.

Hussein, who was editor-in-chief of Al-Shaab (The People) newspaper and member of the Islamist Coalition to Support Legitimacy that supported ousted president Mohamed Morsi, was arrested in July 2014 on violence-related charges.

Shaaban is serving a 15-month sentence issued in May on charges that include illegal protest and attacking a police station in March 2013.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has repeatedly said there are no journalists being held in Egyptian jails for crimes related to publishing and that he cannot interfere in the judiciary's work.

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