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Egyptian prosecutors seek death sentence for photographer Shawkan

A group of journalists and activists calls for the release of Shawkan and other jailed journalists, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt, 9 December 2015
A group of journalists and activists calls for the release of Shawkan and other jailed journalists, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt, 9 December 2015

NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 7 March 2018.

Prosecutors have requested a death sentence for Mahmoud Abou Zeid, an Egyptian photojournalist known as Shawkan who has been held for four and a half years. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the complete disproportionality of the proposed sentence and reiterates its call for his immediate and unconditional release.

The photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, alias Shawkan, is one of the more than 700 defendants in a political mass trial in Cairo for whom the "maximum penalty" - death by hanging - was requested by the prosecution on 3 March 2018.

Arrested in connection with an anti-government protest in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in August 2013, they are all accused indiscriminately of charges that include murder, attempted murder and membership of a banned organization (the Muslim Brotherhood).

"Seeking the death penalty for a photographer who simply covered an opposition demonstration is a political punishment, not an act of justice," RSF said. "Shawkan's only crime was trying to do his job as a photographer. He must be freed at once."

Shawkan was arrested on 14 August 2013 while on assignment for the British photo agency Demotix, covering the use of force by the security forces to break up the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square protest by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. His detention is regarded as arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Egypt is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF's World Press Freedom Index.

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