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Egypt: Drop all charges against Shawkan and free him

Photojournalist Shawkan has endured more than 1000 days in jail just for doing his job

Mahmoud Abu Zeid, better known as Shawkan, was only doing his job. A photojournalist, he was covering a sit-in on 14 August 2013 in Cairo, when security forces swept in.

“It was like a Hollywood movie,” he wrote later. “There were bullets, tear gas, fire, police, soldiers and tanks everywhere.”

Shawkan used his camera to capture the mayhem around him. Police and soldiers had been deployed across the country to stamp out dissent where they found it. It was the bloodiest incident in Egypt’s recent history, claiming some 1,000 lives in one day.

When police found out Shawkan was a journalist, they arrested him. They punched him and whipped him with a belt. Today he is held in Cairo’s notorious Tora Prison, and although he has Hepatitis C, he isn’t getting the medical care he needs.

It’s been three years since Shawkan was jailed. In a recent court hearing he told the judge: “Taking pictures isn’t a crime.” He’s right.

Sign our petition to the Public Prosecutor of Egypt:

I urge you to release Mahmoud Abu Zeid, better known as Shawkan, immediately and unconditionally with all charges against him dropped. He is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for his journalistic work.

A photojournalist, he was covering the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in on 14 August 2013 in Cairo, when security forces swept in. More than 700 people were killed in that sit-in alone. Up to 1,000 people were killed across the country as police and army officers were deployed to disperse protests nationally.

When police found out Shawkan was a journalist, they arrested him. He has been in detention for more than three years facing trumped-up charges and receiving inadequate health care. Please release him without delay.