Name: Mahmoud Abdel Shakour Abu Zeid (Shawkan)
Place of work: Demotex press agency
Date of arrest: 14 August 2013
Date of referral to criminal court: 11 August 2015
Legal status: On trial and in Precautionary detention by order of the criminal court.
Place of detention: Tora prison complex – Tora investigation prison
Case number: 15899/2013 Madinet Nasr I criminal cases
“Shawkan” was arrested while taking pictures on Al-Tayaran Street in Nasr City during the dispersion by security forces of the sit-in of supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi in Rabaa Al Adawiya Square. He was authorized to undertake the coverage by his press agency after an invitation by security forces to various local and foreign media to cover the dispersion operation.
Shawkan was subjected to detention and torture for three consecutive days, starting from his detention in the covered hall at the Cairo Stadium until his arrival in Abu Zaabal prison in contravention of the Constitution and the law. Although Shawkan’s defense team provided professional authorization explaining his presence at the site, including a copy of the agency’s mandate to take pictures, he was held in pre-trial detention for 730 days before being tried, which is the maximum period of pre-trial detention in accordance with article 143 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Shawkan was arrested on 14 August 2013 and his case was referred to trial on 11 August 2015, because the passage of two years before referral to court would mean drop of the detention orders and obligatory release. Since the referral of the case to this day, the case remains pending before the court, and Shawkan remains in precautionary detention for more than four years for his journalistic work.
It is noteworthy that Shawkan was awarded the 2016 Press Freedom Award from the National Press Institute in Washington. He has also published numerous photographs in international newspapers and magazines such as the American “Time” magazine and the British “Sun” newspaper. His photographs and works have also been published by several human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and IFEX International as well as Censorship Index.
Photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zayd, Shawkan, in his fourth year in prison, suffers from a severe medical condition due to a chronic disease “Thalassemia “, which requires constant medical attention and care. The prison administration refused to transfer him to the hospital and does not follow the rules necessary to provide him with medical care. AFTE demands that Shawkan be released immediately and without delay and that Egyptian authorities bear full responsibility for the continuing deterioration in his health.
– Attached a copy of the authorization by Demotex press agency and a copy of Shawkan’s 2016 press award.
– Attached are medical reports and documents providing evidence to the nature and treatment needs of his illness.