Target: Cairo Public Prosecutor
Goal: Free photojournalist arrested for doing his job and held longer than the legal time limit.
An Egyptian photojournalist has now been in jail for over 900 days. Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, was arrested three years ago while taking photographs of police dispersing a protest and held in pretrial detention. In Egypt it is legal to detain a person charged with a crime for two years in pretrial detention, but that period has more than elapsed.
Furthermore, Zeid suffers from hepatitis C, a condition that is not being treated in prison, and is being exacerbated by the poor conditions he is being held in. He shares a three-by-four meter cell with 12 other prisoners.
Mr. Zeid will face a rash of trumped up charges alongside 139 other defendants in an upcoming mass trial. The truth is that the only thing he is guilty of is being a journalist. He has been beaten, tortured and denied access to the medicines he needs. His lawyer has not been given access to his full case file and while his family have appealed 17 times for his release on medical grounds, all their appeals have been denied.
In the last few years Egypt has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. While the government claims it respects freedom of speech and press, many journalists face harassment or prosecution for trying to do their jobs. Sign our petition to help end the illegal and immoral detention of Mahmoud Abu Zeid.
Dear Public Prosecutor,
Photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid has been held in pretrial detention for far above the two year limit. Furthermore, his health is deteriorating as he suffers from hepatitis C and is unable to receive adequate treatment in prison. He is not a protester–he is guilty only of taking photographs.
Your government has insisted that it respects freedom of press and freedom of speech. These statements ring hollow and only invite international condemnation when they are so immediately refuted by the detention of journalists. Your president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has stated that Egypt is a country whose citizens enjoy “unprecedented freedom.” Please show us what that means by releasing Mahmoud Abu Zeid.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jeff Egnaczyk