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DW Freedom

'I am a journalist, not a criminal'

Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid "Shawkan" was arrested while covering the Rabaa protest dispersal in 2013. He is still being held without charge in jail, from where he wrote this letter for DW.

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, I am conveying to you the misery of Egyptian journalists who are celebrating this day in the darkness of prison cells.

How far from us is the meaning of "freedom of the press" when I have spent more than 600 days in prison and I don't know when this nightmare is going to end just because I was doing my job as a photojournalist during the operation of the dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp. Somehow I'm considered a "supporter of the disposed President Morsi."

Journalism in my country has become a crime, a crime by all measures, 13 journalists who sympathized with the Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to life in prison, also another journalist has been sentenced to death.

Where are the world leaders who demonstrated in Paris in protest against the killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, persistently demanding the right of freedom of expression and freedom of the press??

I am living in a tiny cell under harsh conditions that an animal wouldn't bear and am facing false accusations with no grounds of truth and mixed up with protesters who were arrested.

I am demanding and request all media and journalists in the world to support me and stand by me and pressure the Egyptian government to let me go.

I am a journalist not a criminal…HELP ME!!

Mahmoud Abou Zeid "Shawkan" is a contributor to publications such as Time Magazine, Die Zeit, BILD, Media Group, and online photo agency, Demotix. Shawkan was covering the violent clashes in Rabaa Square in Cairo in 2013 between supporters of ousted President Morsi and security forces when he was arrested. He has not been formally charged, his pretrial detention has been continually extended and his appeal for release has been denied.