All four Al Jazeera journalists being held by the Egyptian government are expected in court today. But there is still no word on missing journalist Abdullah Elshamy, who disappeared after being moved by authorities on Monday. Elshamy has been on a hunger strike since 21 January this year, and is said to be close to starving to death. But his family said on Twitter they believe he is being at the maximum security prison, Scorpion.
A video containing footage of Elshamy speaking has been released and was recorded just a few days before he went missing. In it, the emaciated journalist said he had been detained for 266 days without any charge and without committing any crime.
“My name is Abdullah Elshamy, I’m Al Jazeera Arabic’s news reporter. I have been detained since 14 August 2013 in Cairo while I was covering the dispersal of Rabaa al Adawiya sit-in. I was doing my job as a reporter and despite the authorities knowing this, I have been detained for 266 days without any charge and without committing any crime.
“I record this video after I have reached 106 days of my hunger strike to hold the Egyptian government, the Egyptian judiciary and the General Prosecutor responsible. If anything ever happens to me, I have requested several medical checkups from independent sources and yet this help has not been provided. I also haven’t had any medical care here inside the prison and this is a record for the history and for the sake of documenting my state and thus if anything happens to me, whatever it is, either my health fails totally, or anything happens to my safety, I hold the Egyptian regime responsible for that.”
Al Jazeera spokesperson Osama Saeed said Elshamy needed urgent independent medical attention. “The authorities should grant this and reveal where they are holding him. The best thing of all they can do is release him and end this nine-month ordeal. Abdullah is a journalist and journalism is not a crime,” he said.
An appeal against Elshamy’s latest 45 day detention will be heard in court today. Elshamy is being held along with around 700 people who were arrested at the same time on 14 August last year. Al Jazeera says his case should be treated separately as he is a journalist.
Also today, Al Jazeera English’s three journalists – correspondent Peter Greste has been detained since December 2013 with producers Baher Mohamed and Mohammed Fahmy – will have the eighth hearing of their trial.
In the meantime, Al Jazeera estimates it has lost in excess of $150 million due to its dispute with the Egyptian government which, it says, has conducted a sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation against the broadcaster. Its transmission has been jammed, its offices raided by security forces, its broadcasts being shut down and equipment confiscated. Al Jazeera said its reputation had been attacked too.
Now it has submitted an official notification of dispute to the interim Egyptian government. The network says it is relying on a Bilateral Treaty signed between the country in which it is headquartered, Qatar, and Egypt as the basis for its decision. As per the Bilateral Treaty, if no amicable settlement between Al Jazeera and the Egyptian authorities has been reached within six months, Al Jazeera will take the case to international arbitration.
IMAGE: Elshamy’s wife, Gehad Khaled
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