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Shawkan finally released after five and a half years!

Must stay at police station twelve hours every night for five years.

Image of Shawkan

Egyptian photojournalist, Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as “Shawkan” was finally released on March 4th 2019, after spending more than five and a half years in Cairo’s Tora prison on trumped-up charges. 

“Mahmoud Abou Zeid's long overdue release brings an end to a painful ordeal for him and his family. As a prisoner of conscience, he should never have been forced to spend a single minute behind bars – let alone five and a half years,” said Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director Najia Bounaim.

“After his release he faces ludicrous probation measures, which require him to spend 12 hours of each day at a police station from 6pm to 6am for the next five years. These outrageous measures will severely restrict his liberty and should be lifted immediately.”

Background

Mahmoud Abou Zeid (Shawkan) was arrested in Cairo at the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in on August 14, 2013 while on assignment for the London-based photo agency Demotix. He was arrested along with two foreign journalists who were released the same day.

He was charged with 24 offenses, including murder. During his trial, the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish that Mahmoud Abou Zeid was responsible for the offenses with which he was charged.

He was convicted in September 2018 in a mass trial of more than 700 people, including senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was sentenced to five years in prison, which he had already served in pre-trial detention, plus a fine followed by five years of probation. A six-month prison term was added to his sentence because he could not afford to pay the fine.

Shawkan was awarded the prestigious 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize. His talent gained global recognition and thousands of people around the world spoke out against the cruel and intolerable injustice. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations including Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, PEN America and many others worked tirelessly for his release.