Further pressure has been piled on Egyptian authorities to release detained Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Elshamy, who has now been imprisoned for 253 days. The prosecutor for the case is expected to reach a decision this week on whether to release the 93-day hunger striker or renew his detention.
Speaking yesterday, 23 April 2014, Lagos-based Elshamy Nusehy Elshamy and Thuraya Elshamy said their son, Abdullah Elshamy, is fighting not for himself but for a free media.
Elshamy Nusehy Elshamy told Al Jazeera that despite concerns about the health of Abdullah, his family are right behind him in his hunger strike: “My son is now 253 days without being taken to court; his hunger strike is now more than 90 days. Abdullah is not on the hunger strike for himself; he is doing it to protect free journalism across the world. I call on the Egyptian authorities to free my son and Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.”
He also went on to say: “My son is my new teacher; he sets a great example of how self-belief can make anyone stronger. I pray that he goes and wins this battle.”
Abdullah’s mother, Thuraya, said she supports her son’s fight for freedom. “I urge Abdullah to continue his hunger strike, because now it is not for himself, it is for freedom and for all his colleagues. My son is innocent and his loves his country of Egypt. He has always reported the truth; his motivation has always been humanitarian and professional causes.”
Both of his parents say they support their son’s hunger strike: “Our son has lost a lot of weight, but his strength is boosted everyday by the solidarity of his colleagues from all over the world.”
Born in Egypt but raised in Nigeria, Abdullah works as a correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic. He is one of four Al Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt. Al Jazeera English correspondent Peter Greste and producers Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been detained since December 2013.
Calls for their release have been made from the White House, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the European Union. Similarly public calls of support for the #FreeAJStaff campaign have been made from prominent media personalities with over 50,000 people supporting the #FreeAJStaff campaign, which has had over 1.1 billion impressions on twitter. Various media freedom and human rights groups have also issued statements, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Press Institute, Amnesty International and Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa.
Further information on #FreeAJStaff is available here.