Egypt: Hunger-striking journalist in solitary confinement must be released

The Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Abdallah Elshamy, an Al Jazeera Arabic journalist who has been placed in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison and denied medical care for an ongoing hunger strike, said Amnesty International today. 

Abdallah Elshamy has been on hunger strike since 21 January 2014 and his health has deteriorated severely, according to recent reports. On Monday, he disappeared from his cell in Tora Istiqbal Prison and the authorities did not disclose information about his location to his family or lawyer, despite repeated appeals. 

His family, who was able to visit him briefly yesterday, said that he was moved to solitary confinement in al-Aqrab Prison (known as “The Scorpion”) as a punitive measure for his hunger strike. After his transfer, Abdallah Elshamy spent three continuous days in his cell without security officials checking on him once. 

“By placing a hunger-striker in solitary confinement, instead of transferring him to a hospital or allowing him to see a doctor, the Egyptian authorities are deliberately putting his life and health at risk,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraroui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme for Amnesty International.

“Abdallah Elshamy was arrested simply for doing his job and his prolonged detention is groundless. He must be immediately and unconditionally released without further delay.” 

Abdallah Elshamy was arrested on 14 August 2013 while covering the violent dispersal of Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in. He has also faced ill-treatment following his arrest.

An appeal against his ongoing detention is being looked at today by the Prosecution. The appeal is expected to be rejected by the authorities.

Three Al Jazeera English journalists facing trial in a separate case were also denied bail in their latest court hearing today. Amnesty International considers Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed to be prisoners of conscience and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

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