Al Jazeera journalist on hunger strike disappears

Sipho Kings

Nine months into his detention in Egypt, an Al Jazeera journalist on hunger strike has been removed from his cell and nobody knows his whereabouts.

Besides Abdullah Elshamy, three of the station's English journalists were also arrested last year. They are currently on trial. (AFP)

Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy was moved from his cell on Monday, and nobody knows his whereabouts, the news organisation said. But the organisation was given a video Elshamy recorded before he vanished. 

In it, he said, “I was doing my job as a reporter and despite the authorities knowing this, I have been detained for 266 days without charge and without committing any crime.”

Al Jazeera said the footage showed him looking frail and emaciated, with sunken eyes.

In the video he said he had now been on 106 days of hunger strike without medical checkups from independent sources. Both he and his employer had requested that he receive them. “I haven’t also had any medical care here inside the prison and this is a record for the sake of documenting my status,” he said.

“If anything happens to me, either if my health fails totally or anything happens to my safety, I hold the Egyptian regime responsible for that.” 

Elshamy was arrested on August 14 while working for Al Jazeera Arabic in the Egyptian capital Cairo. He was not charged and began his hunger strike on January 21. An appeal against his detention would be heard on May 16, Al Jazeera said. 

Members of a ‘terrorist organisation’
Three of the station’s English journalists were also arrested last year. They are currently on trial. 

On Thursday, the three will have the eighth hearing of their trial. Like Elshamy, they have been charged with aiding members of a “terrorist organisation” and operating without proper documentation. 

The state prosecutor accused them of publishing lies and supplying money and equipment to Egyptian nationals who were allegedly members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Their first court appearance was on World Press Freedom Day. 

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