Shawkan’s fate to be decided next week: Lawyer
Mahmoud Abou Zaid - Freedom for Shawkan Facebook Page

CAIRO: The fate of the detained photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, whose detention has exceeded the maximum pre-trial limit of two years, is expected to be decided on by a Cairo appeal court next week, his lawyer Karim Abdel Rady told The Cairo Post Wednesday.

The court received Wednesday the referral decision of over 700 defendants, including Shawkan. The case documents will be reviewed by the court’s president who will decide who will remain in prison and who will be excluded from the case.

“We attached a request to release Shawkan with the case papers so the judge reviews it before taking the decision,” Rady said.

Rady described Wednesday’s delay as a “continuous procrastination” in the case.

In previous statements to The Cairo Post, Rady called for the “immediate release” of Shawkan after he completed two years in prison last month; he was arrested while covering the police dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013.

Shawkan was arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder, assaulting security forces and weapon possession.

His long incarceration was widely condemned as “unlawful;” he was arrested with Al-Jazeera’s journalist Abdullah el-Shawy who was released last year. Two foreign journalists, detained with him, were also released hours after their arrest.

The Cairo Post contacted the Freedom for Shawkan Campaign, which said that Shawkan has stopped smoking as he prepares himself for the hunger strike he has entered in protest against his imprisonment.

“[s]ometimes I do not know whether the pain is from hepatitis C or from anemia,” wrote Shawkan in a letter he sent from prison last month. He reportedly contracted hepatitis C in prison and his health has since deteriorated.

According to statistics provided by the Journalists’ Syndicate, there are at least 35 journalists in Egypt currently detained, mostly over charges related to their work.

On Aug. 29, three Al-Jazeera journalists Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste were sentenced to three years in prison over widely denounced terror-charges.

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