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Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah al-Shami released from Egyptian jail as others await verdict

Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah al-Shami released from Egyptian jail as others await verdict

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Jailed Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Baher Mohamed await their verdict on 23 June.

After more than ten months in jail without charges, Abdullah al-Shami was released from Cairo’s Scorpion prison on Tuesday 17 June. The Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent was arrested by security forces in August 2013 while covering the violent dispersal of a pro-Morsi sit-in that left hundreds of protesters dead.


Outside the police station where he was finally released, Al-Shami thanked a jubilant crowd and called for the release of journalists who remain behind bars. “This is only the beginning. I am more determined to carry on this struggle than before,” he said.


Al-Shami was among 13 prisoners released from prison on medical grounds. He had resorted to a hunger strike for more than four months to protest against his prolonged detention. Sent to solitary confinement, many feared the worst as he lost 40 kilos and suffered from severe anaemia and the start of kidney failure.


In a statement, Al Jazeera said that this release was a “relief rather than a cause for celebration.” Three Al Jazeera English journalists – Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy – still languish in jail. Detained since 29 December 2013 and accused of falsifying news and having ties with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, the prosecutor-general has demanded a maximum penalty of 15 to 25 years in jail.


The verdict of the three Al Jazeera journalists and seventeen others is due on Monday 23rd of June. Nine of them are in custody while the rest are being tried in absentia. “We are very confident we are going to be next,” said a hopeful Mohammed Fahmy, as he left a private hospital where he received a check-up for an injured shoulder, a condition which he says has deteriorated in jail.

After ousting President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, Egypt’s military-backed government has waged a brutal crackdown against journalists and activists deemed to support the Muslim Brotherhood. Since taking office on 8 June, press freedom groups and journalists have been urging Egypt’s newly elected leader, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, to improve the dire climate for press freedom in the country. 


Jessica White's picture

Jessica White


2014-06-17 23:00

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...