Cairo Criminal Court renewed the detention of photojournalist Mahmoud Shawkan on Saturday, along with 97 others, for 45 more days pending investigation on charges related to the violent events surrounding the forced dispersal of Rabea al-Adaweya Square sit-in in 2013.
Shawkan has been arbitrarily detained for 675 days.
The defendants were charged with belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group which, according to prosecution, aims at “hindering the implementation of the constitution and law, preventing state institutions from performing their duties, assaulting personal freedoms of citizens, harming the national unity, threatening citizens with violence and disturbing the public peace,” privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported.
They also face charges of using violence against the police, possession of unlicensed weapons and explosives, vandalizing public property, setting fire to Rabea al-Adaweyya mosque and premeditated murder.
The Freedom for Shawkan Facebook page, which has held a number of online protests to demand the release of the detained photojournalist, condemned the court’s decision.
“Shawkan is a photojournalist, not a criminal. He was arrested while doing his job, covering the dispersal of Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in,” their Facebook post said.
“Despite providing evidence that proves he was working as a photojournalist for Demotix photo agency at the time, his detention was renewed for over 675 days,” the page added.
In a previous interview with Mada Masr, Shawkan’s brother, Mohamed, said Shawkan felt he was “forgotten behind prison walls.”
“For a year, my brother is being held without charges in prison, he was detained during the dispersal of Rabea and his detention has been renewed since then. My brother never held a gun, he was simply doing his job, but unfortunately he was a freelancer, so he had no institution to back him or offer any support,” Mohamed said.
Shawkan was reportedly arrested alongside a number of foreign journalists by men in civilian clothing. The foreign photojournalist were released, but Shawkan remains in detention.
Meanwhile, a number of protests have been staged to object to Shawkan’s detention, the latest of which was on June 11, where more than 200 members of the press gathered at the Journalists Syndicate to chant for the “32 detained journalists” as they commemorated Egyptian Journalist Day.
Leading up to the protest, the syndicate had filed 13 complaints with the prosecutor general demanding the immediate release of all journalists currently detained pending investigation, and detailing alleged acts of torture inflicted upon those journalists while in custody.