Egypt: hunger-striking Al Jazeera journalist must be released from solitary confinement

‘By placing a hunger-striker in solitary confinement … the Egyptian authorities are deliberately putting his life and health at risk’
Hassiba Hadj Sahraroui

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, who was arrested last August while covering the violent dispersal of a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, has faced ill-treatment in detention since his arrest and has been on hunger strike since 21 January. Since then his health has deteriorated severely, according to recent reports. 

This 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 requests. His family, which 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, Elshamy spent three continuous days in his cell without security officials checking on him once. 

An appeal against his ongoing detention is being considered, but is expected to be rejected by the authorities.

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

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraroui said:

“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. 

“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.” 

For more information, please see our Urgent Action for Abdallah Elshamy (PDF)

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