Mahmoud Abou Zeid, an Egyptian photojournalist also known as Shawkan, is facing a death sentence in Cairo, Egypt. He was arrested in connection with an anti-government protest back in August 2013, and prosecutors requested a death sentence for him on 3 March 2018.
As Reporters Without Borders write, Shawkan is one of more than 700 people currently facing a death sentence in Cairo. The prosecution requested the “maximum penalty” for all of them: death by hanging. The arrested people took part in the protest at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in 2013. Some of the charges include murder, attempted murder and being members of a banned organization named Muslim Brotherhood. However, as the source reports, Shawkan was just doing his job as a photographer.
Seeking the death penalty for a photographer who simply covered an opposition demonstration is a political punishment, not an act of justice. Shawkan’s only crime was trying to do his job as a photographer. He must be freed at once.
At the time of the protest, Shawkan was reportedly covering the event for British photo agency Demotix. He was arrested on 14 August 2013 and reportedly held without charges or trial until March 2016. According to Reporters Without Borders, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has regarded Shawkan’s arrest as arbitrary. They have issued a report stating the details of the photojournalist’s arrest and imprisonment.
Reporters Without Borders point out that Egypt is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in their World Press Freedom Index. In their statement, they have called for Shawkan’s immediate and unconditional release.