Washington: Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, also known as ‘Shawkan’, was convicted earlier today and sentenced to serve five years in prison. He, however, will be released in next few days as he has already served the time in pre-trial detention.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) quoted news reports to reveal that the award-winning journalist was convicted on the charges of murder and membership of a terrorist group.
The CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour said, “We are relieved that Shawkan, whose only ‘crime’ was taking pictures, can finally walk out of prison, but he will not be fully free. His treatment, and that of scores of other journalists under Egypt’s totally discredited judicial system, is a stain on Egypt. The least the authorities can now do is to release him without any restrictions whatsoever on his right to live and work freely.”
Condemning the photojournalist’s sentencing, the CPJ demanded his immediate release and asked to remove any restriction on his release on appeal.
Meanwhile, Shawkan will be released on certain conditions. The CPJ quoted the journalist’s brother Mohamed as saying that Shawkan would be released under “police observation” for five years, meaning he will have to appear at a police station every day at sunset.
Mohamed further said that Shawkan and his lawyer would appeal the verdict in Egypt’s court of cassation.
Shawkan was arrested while covering clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and has been in jail since August 14, 2013.