Court extends detention of Al Jazeera reporter, 462 others, for 45 days

Cairo Criminal Court extended the detention of Al Jazeera reporter Abdullah al-Shamy on Wednesday — along with 462 other prisoners — for an additional 45 days, pending investigations.

Shamy has been jailed for a total of 301 days. He is being held in solitary confinement at Al-Aqrab Maximum Security Prison.

The reporter has been protesting his continued detention through a hunger strike for the past 142 days. His health is reported to have seriously deteriorated as a result.

His lawyer claims that the results of medical examinations, conducted in mid May, reveal that Shamy is suffering from acute anaemia and the onset of kidney failure, along with low blood pressure, hypoglycaemia and severe fatigue. According to his lawyer, Shamy’s weight has dropped from 108 kilograms to 68.

The 26 year-old reporter has languished in prison for the past 10 months as he awaits trial. He has only been allowed a few visits while in prison.

This week, monitors from the (state-controlled) National Council for Human Rights reported that the Ministry of Interior denied visits to two prisoners on hunger strike — Shamy and Mohamed Soltan.

Shamy, a correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Arabic language channel, has been jailed continuously since his arrest on August 14, when police and military troops forcefully dispersed supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi outside the Rabea al-Adaweya Mosque in eastern Cairo. This crackdown left several hundreds dead and hundreds of others behind bars.

Authorities began to shut down Al Jazeera’s offices and channels as of August 28, 2013.

Egyptian authorities outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood and on December 25 classified the Islamist group as a terrorist organization. The authorities accuse Al Jazeera of disseminating false and misleading information, and affiliation to a terrorist organization.

The Al Jazeera network issues daily updates about the condition of its detained staff members, and has dismissed the aforementioned accusations.

Three of Shamy’s colleagues from Al Jazeera’s English language channel have been jailed for the past six months and are standing trial.

Prosecutors have been calling on judges to issue maximum prison sentences —ranging from 15 to 25 years — against the three staff members of Al Jazeera International.

Numerous protests and solidarity stands in several countries have been held for Al Jazeera’s four detained staff members, while a number of human rights organizations have been calling for their immediate release.

Twenty individuals, said to be journalists and media staff members, are facing criminal charges. They have been associated with Al Jazeera, although the network claims that only four of them are its employees.


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