Photojournalist released after 5 yrs in Egypt prison

Photojournalist released after 5 yrs in Egypt prison

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12:30 am, March 06, 2019

The Associated PressCAIRO (AP) — A prominent Egyptian photojournalist was released after five years in prison and returned home Monday to hugs from family and friends, pledging to continue working despite severe restrictions imposed on his movements, including having to spend nights at a police station nearby.

Mahmoud Abu Zaid, popularly known as “Shawkan,” was convicted of involvement in a 2013 sit-in by Islamists that was broken up by Egyptian security forces in an operation that left hundreds dead.

His case comes as Egypt, under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, has launched an unprecedented assault on reporters and the media in recent years, imprisoning dozens and occasionally expelling some foreign journalists.

Shawkan was taking photos at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in Cairo where Muslim Brotherhood supporters were holding a sit-in protest in August 2013 to denounce the ouster and detention weeks earlier by the military of Egypt’s freely elected but divisive Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

“I was heading out to take photos. I come back to my home after five years,” Shawkan, 32, told The Associated Press at his home in Cairo’s neighborhood of Fisal, shortly after his release.

“I feel like I was born again, I feel relieved,” said his mother, Reda Mahrous. “I used to stay awake at night thinking, telling myself that Mahmoud will come back today or tomorrow.”

Shawkan’s lawyer, Taher Abuel-Naser, said he was released from a police station earlier in the morning. An Egyptian court had ordered Shawkan’s release last September after he had served out his term, but he remained behind bars for an additional six months in lieu of paying a fine for alleged property damages incurred during the Rabaa Al-Adawiya crackdown.

Shawkan said that under his sentencing and following his release, he has to report to the nearest police station and spend every night there from 6 p.m. till 6 a.m. for the next five years because he has been remanded under “police observation” for that time.

He is also prohibited from managing his financial assets and property for the duration of those five years.Speech

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