CAIRO, Jul 19 (Aswat Masriya) – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced on Monday imprisoned Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid “Shawkan” as one of four recipients of its 2016 International Press Freedom Awards.
Shawkan, a freelance photojournalist, was arrested in August 2013 while he was covering the security forces’ dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in and has been detained ever since as detention periods have been repeatedly renewed.
The list of awardees also included journalists from India, Turkey, and El Salvador who "faced threats, legal action, and imprisonment". The winners are set to receive their awards on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 during the CPJ's annual ceremony in New York.
"These four brave journalists have risked their freedom--and their lives--to report to their societies and the global community about critical news events," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "CPJ is proud to honor these journalists who, in the face of repression and violence, continue to bring us vital news."
Shawkan was held in pre-trial detention for over two years, before his case was referred to court in September 2015, but has been repeatedly delayed.
He is accused of weapons possession, illegal assembly, attempted murder, and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group in the case known as the “Rabaa dispersal”, along with over 700 defendants. Shawkan has denied all the charges.
Shawkan, who suffers from Hepatitis C, is held in Tora Prison where he hasn't been receiving proper medical treatment, according to his lawyers.
"Tora prison is like a cemetery," Shawkan wrote in March 2015. "It is a place where dreams come to die."
Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and other local and international rights groups have repeatedly called for Shawkan’s release amid concerns over freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in Egypt.