Photojournalist Ahmed Gamal Zeyada and 12 others were acquitted on Sunday, in a case related to clashes at Al-Azhar university in 2013, while 54 others were sentenced to between one and seven years in prison.
The defendants were arrested on December 28, 2013, during violent protests at Al-Azhar University against the current regime. They faced charges of assaulting police officers, vandalism and illegal assembly, among others.
Over the last year-and-a-half of their detention, rights groups and families of the defendants have reported severe violations and incidents of torture against those in Abu Zaabal prison.
Zeyada, who works for the Yaqeen news network, has staged several hunger strikes in protest over his detention without charge, the longest of which lasted 98 days. In September 2014, Zeyada’s family reported that prison authorities threatened to put him in solitary confinement if he didn’t end his hunger strike, then in its eighth day.
The group was detained pending investigations for a full year before the prosecution pressed charges against them.
Last month, detainees in Abu Zaabal sent out a letter describing that they were subjected to torture and beating for days. According to the letter, the torture started when prison forces attacked Zeyada and other detainees tried to protect him.
The letter reported that the cells were raided by masked forces and dogs and that detainees were then kept in disciplinary rooms for four days in their underwear.
Zeyada was among 64 journalists currently in prison, according to recent statistics released by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.