Al Jazeera on trial
Abdullah Elshamy free: 'I have won. Everyone who is a journalist doing his job credibly and honestly has won'
Wednesday 18 June, 2014
Abdullah Elshamy was reunited with family and friends last night outside a Cairo police station, where crowds had gathered to celebrate his freedom after ten months in prison without charge.
Elshamy, pictured above with his wife Gehad Khaled, was one of 14 prisoners whose release was ordered for medical reasons on Monday. He said:
"I have won. Everyone who is a freedom fighter or a journalist doing his work credibly and honestly has won. I missed my freedom, I missed my life, my life stopped on August 14 at 6pm when I was moved to a place I did not wish to be. It is important to mention that this is only the beginning. I am more determined to carry on this struggle than before."
Elshamy also called for the release of the three Al Jazeera English journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who have been in custody since December 29. Unlike Elshamy, they have been put on trial and the 13th and final session - when the judge is due to deliver his verdict - will be held on Monday.
The Prosecutor General's decree that Elshamy should be released came as a surprise, since he had been sent back to prison for a further 45 days' remand last week. His brother Mohammed said: " It has happened so quickly, it is an excitement for me, for the whole family, for everyone who knows him or has heard about him. It's a wonderful day."
Al Jazeera said: "This is a relief rather than a cause for celebration. Abdullah has been through a terrible ordeal for over 10 months. He'll want to spend time with his family and recuperate. When he's ready, we look forward to seeing him back in action, doing the vital job of journalism that he so clearly loves.
"We would like to thank all who supported Abdullah's cause; millions on social media, international and humanitarian organisations, media outlets which covered the case professionally and public figures across the world who expressed their support to Abdullah on several levels, proving their strong belief in freedom of journalism and its role."
Hunger striker Abdullah Elshamy freed
Tuesday 17 June, 2014 Abdullah Elshamy, who has been on hunger strike all year over his detention without charge in Egypt,has been freed on the orders of the prosecutor general.
The Al Jazeera Arabic journalist was arrested on August 14, the day after reporting on the massacre of protesters in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo.
At least 630 people who had been staging a sit-in over the overthrow of President Morsi were killed and about 4,000 injured.
The new Government outlawed the Morsi-supporting Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and clamped down on Al Jazeera, alleging that it was distorting news reports to favour the Brotherhood and to give the impression that the country was at civil war.
Elshamy has never been charged, but has been repeatedly remanded to prison. Last week he was again ordered to be detained for a further 45 days.
But yesterday Egypt's prosecutor general said that he should be released on medical grounds.
Last month doctors said they feared for Elshamy's life and - if he survived - for his longterm health after five months on hunger strike. He was moved from his Tora prison cell and his family hoped that he had been taken to hospital, but he had instead been committed to solitary confinement.
Today his younger brothers tweeted that he was free along with photographs of Elshamy and the prison van that took him away from jail.
Al Jazeera hunger striker put in solitary
Abdullah Elshamy, an Al Jazeera Arabic journalist, has been put in solitary confinement at the Al Aqrab maximum security prison in Egypt where attempts are believed to have been made to force-feed him. Elshamy was arrested last summer and has still not been charged. He has been on hunger strike for four months, has lost 35kg and was said last week to be 'close to death'. This video was smuggled out of the Tora prison before he was moved.
Three Al Jazeera English journalists were remanded in custody on Thursday after their eighth court appearance. Peter Greste's lawyer quit, saying Al Jazeera was using the case for publicity. The prosecution demanded more than £100,000 to show the defence to see key evidence.
It's not easy; the constant fear for my husband, the unbearable thoughts of what may happen to him in a country where rulers have demonstrated they have no respect for human rights and no understanding of the basic principles of justice or rule of law. But I have a sense of pride that he is ready to sacrifice his life for freedom - not just for his own freedom but for the freedom of every journalist, for the sake of truth.
I am proud that there is a human being willing to sacrifice that which is most precious to him, so that the hope of a free press and freedom of speech remains - and especially that this man is my husband.
- Gehad Khaled,
April 30, 2014
Al Jazeera on trial
IN CAIRO JAIL
Verdict on Monday
When the journalist becomes the story rather than reporting it, you ask yourself why this happened and who is responsible for detaining you in the terrorism wing of Egypt’s most notorious prison.
To silence me and my colleagues on the pretext that we are a threat to national security and members of a terrorist organization is a sheer insult to the intelligence of Egyptian people and the democracy promoted in the newly ratified constitution
- Mohamed Fahmy, May 2
I have no particular fight with the Egyptian government, just as I have no interest in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood or any other group here. But as a journalist I am committed to defending a fundamental freedom of the press that no one in my profession can credibly work without."
- Peter Greste prison blog, January 25
Journalists are not just reporting the news. We are truth-seekers. Imagine for a moment what would happen if we stopped working with courage, if we abandoned our integrity, gave up on independence and freedom.
It would leave the world a far more ignorant place with dictators free to take advantage and flourish
- Baher Mohamed
letter from jail,
The court hearings
plus Storify and video
Peter Greste: the prison blogs, awards and background
World Press Freedom Day: a message from Greste plus an award for Fahmy