News / Middle East

Al Jazeera Warns: Life of Jailed Journalist in Egypt Is at Risk

Al Jazeera's hunger-striking journalist Abdullah Elshamy stands behind bars with other prisoners at a court in Cairo, May 15, 2014.
Al Jazeera's hunger-striking journalist Abdullah Elshamy stands behind bars with other prisoners at a court in Cairo, May 15, 2014.
Reuters
Qatar-based satellite network Al Jazeera has written to world powers asking them to secure the release of one of its journalists jailed in Egypt, accusing the authorities in Cairo of endangering his life.

In a letter seen by Reuters, a lawyer acting for the pan-Arab network said the health of Abdullah Elshamy, one of four Al Jazeera reporters being held in Egypt, was "of the gravest possible concern and in need of immediate attention."

Elshamy, who has been on hunger strike since January 21 to protest against his detention, is being held in solitary confinement in dire conditions, the letter said. "Mr. Elshamy's situation is of grave concern; his health is deteriorating and the Egyptian authorities show no sign of providing appropriate medical care or of bringing an end to his entirely unwarranted and indefensible detention without charge," Cameron Doley, a lawyer acting for Al Jazeera, wrote. "Time is of the essence."

Al Jazeera's intervention, designed to put pressure on former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ahead of a May 26-27 presidential election that he is expected to win, is likely to further sour already poor Qatari-Egyptian relations.

Elshamy, who is Egyptian, was arrested in Cairo in August last year while reporting on police dispersing supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, toppled the previous month by Sisi. Qatar, a Gulf Arab monarchy that funds Al Jazeera, backs Morsi's deposed Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo has declared a "terrorist" group. Qatari ties with Egypt have been strained since the army ousted Morsi after mass unrest against his rule.

Failing health

Doley, a lawyer for London law firm Carter Ruck, said in the letter that Elshamy had acute anemia, the onset of kidney dysfunction, low blood pressure and hypoglycemia, and that his weight had dropped from 108 to 68 kilograms.

Recipients of the letter included U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, and U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay.

Al Jazeera last month served Egypt with a $150 million compensation claim for what it said was damage to its media business inflicted by Cairo's military-backed rulers.

Three other Al Jazeera journalists are being tried in Egypt on charges of aiding members of a "terrorist organization", in a case that human rights groups say shows the authorities are trampling on freedom of expression. All three deny the charges and Al Jazeera has said the accusations are absurd. Egyptian officials have said the case is not linked to freedom of expression and that the journalists raised suspicions by operating without proper accreditation.

The trio - Peter Greste, an Australian, Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian national, and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian - were detained in Cairo on December 29. Earlier this year, an Egyptian prosecutor said Al Jazeera journalists had published lies harming the national interest, and also said it had supplied money, equipment and information to 16 Egyptians.

In addition, the foreigners were accused of using unlicensed broadcasting equipment. Both state and private Egyptian media have fanned anti-Brotherhood sentiment, suggesting anyone associated with the veteran movement is a traitor and threat to national security.

Egyptians often ask journalists in the streets whether they work for Al Jazeera. Saying yes could mean a beating. The Brotherhood renounced violence as a means of political change decades ago and says it remains committed to peaceful activism, denying any association with the surge in Islamist insurgent violence since Morsi's downfall.

The crackdown on dissent has raised questions about Egypt's democratic credentials three years after an uprising toppled veteran autocratic president Hosni Mubarak and has raised hopes of greater freedoms. Morsi won power in a free election in 2012.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid