Elshamy’s brother, Mosa’ab, a young Egyptian photojournalist, went to visit him in Cairo’s Tora prison on Tuesday. Elshamy is on hunger strike protesting his detention. He was in good spirits, his brother said, but after eight days without food, he had trouble focusing. The prison authorities
moved him tothreatened him with solitary confinement, in apparent retribution for the hunger strike. “It’s very concerning and it’s frightening, but I understand this is a step he had to take,” Mosa’ab Elshamy said of the hunger strike. “He’s grown tired of the absurdity of detention, and he wants to put an end to it.”
He emerged from the prison a few hours later only to learn that another of his brothers, Mohamed, a photojournalist for Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, had been detained by police outside his office in downtown Cairo. Police searching his backpack found a gas mask and camera—standard tools for news photographers in Cairo—and took him into custody. Luckily, he was released the same day.
Rights advocates in Egypt characterized the indictments as a continuation of the government’s ongoing clampdown. “There is a severe, ongoing campaign against freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” said Gamal Eid, executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. “It’s not just [a campaign] against journalists who talk about the violence against the Brotherhood. It’s also about anyone who talks about human right violations.”
Meanwhile, four Al Jazeera journalists—three from the “Marriot Cell” and ElShamy—face an ongoing prison ordeal. Mohamed Fahmy is held in the maximum security wing of Tora Prison, in solitary confinement, adjacent to cells holding accused anti-government militants. “We are extremely disappointed and devastated that they are reasserting the same ridiculous accusations, which are completely false,” said Mohamed Fahmy’s brother, Adel. “We’re hoping the truth will prevail. It’s a nightmare, literally a nightmare for all of us as his family.”
“We are witnesses of freedom,” Abdullah Elshamy declared in a letter explaining his hunger strike. The message was written from prison and posted online by his family last week. “Nothing will break my will or dignity.”
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