Amnesty calls for urgent action for detained Al Jazeera journalists
Al Jazeera channel - Photo courtesy of arabia.msn.com
By THE CAIRO POST

CAIRO: Amnesty International urged Friday an “urgent action” campaign for two detainees: Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy, and Mohamed Soltan, the son of a Muslim Brotherhood leader, both of whom are on a hunger strike to protest their detentions.

The call to action urges supporters of the detainees to send letters to interim President Adly Mansour, Attorney General Hisham Barakat, as well as the Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights, Mahy Hassan Abdel Latif, demanding the release of the prisoners.

Gehad Khaled, Abdullah Elshamy’s wife, previously announced a hunger strike in solidarity with her husband, and wrote on her Twitter account on May 15 that she had learned Tora Prison had begun force-feeding Elshamy.

Elshamy is one of a number of Al Jazeera journalists to be detained by the Egyptian government. On Dec. 29, Egyptian security forces arrested Al Jazeera bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, Australian correspondent Peter Greste and producer Baher Mohamed at the Marriott Hotel in Cairo, and they are charged with broadcasting false news, as well as “conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

During Thursday’s court session, lawyer Farag Fathy, head of the defense team, announced that he and two other lawyers would no longer represent the reporters because Al Jazeera is “using his clients.”

Fathy also accused the prosecution of demanding a fee of 1.2 million EGP ($170,000) to view evidence.

“There have been many farcical scenes during the previous seven court hearings, and today was another example. It is an affront to justice for the prosecution to attempt charging $170,000 for the defense to see the video evidence against them,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.

“This represents prejudice against the standards of a fair trial,” said Mohamed Mahmoud, a lawyer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

He did say, however, that a fee of 60 EGP per second applies for the defense if they want to copy video evidence, while viewings of said evidence, while free, are at the discretion of a judge. During the 2010 trial of Hisham Talaat Mostafa for the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamam, the defense was asked to pay 750 million EGP in order to copy evidence, he added.

Additional reporting by Hanan Fayed. 

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