Family of hunger striking journalist says he is forced to eat

The family of hunger striking journalist Abdullah al-Shamy said in a statement that their son was forced to eat, after photos circulated on social media showing the journalist eating.

The photos first appeared on an unofficial Facebook page, the admins of which remain unknown. They showed Shamy sitting on the floor eating and drinking milk.

The family said in the statement that worries are mounting Shamy is being forced to end his hunger strike, especially after his transfer to solitary confinement in Aqrab prison.

“Abdullah told us during our last visit that he is being threatened by the prison administration to end his hunger strike. He was warned that he would be denied his right to receive visits, and was promised transfer to a prison cell where his fellow journalists are held,” if he complied.

Shamy, who works for the Qatari-based Al Jazeera network, was arrested on August 14 during the dispersal of the Rabea pro-Morsi sit in. His detention has been extended since and he was never referred to trial.

He declared his hunger strike on January 21, demanding trial or release. A global campaign was launched by Al Jazeera for the release of Shamy and the team of Al Jazeera English journalists, who face terrorism charges in the case known as the “Marriott Cell.”

The Facebook page, called “Egypt Military Pictures,” published the photos in a manner that discredits Shamy’s hunger strike. The page alleged that the strike is fake and claims that Shamy is being detained pending investigations in a number of cases.

The family said in the statement that Shamy was forced for the first time to break his hunger strike after he was sent to Aqrab prison, which led to vomiting and extreme stomach ache as his body rejected the food following the almost four month hunger strike.

“The photos on an unofficial Facebook page ran by a group of police officers stir a lot of doubts, especially as he doesn’t look like he is eating food normally, the family’s statement read.

Instead of responding to international calls to release Shamy, the family said Egyptian authorities are insisting on putting his life in danger by forcing him to eat and “abusing his weakness to film him in this way.”

“We declare that these photos do not present any proof or answers unless we are allowed to see our son and are assured of his condition as soon as possible,” the statement added.

Shamy wrote in a letter that his hunger strike “annoys them” and that the authorities want to “break him” for this.

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