Middle East

Egypt urged to allow journalist medical care

Concern grows as Al Jazeera journalist's weight drops drastically since he began a hunger strike 100 days ago.

Last updated: 30 Apr 2014 10:27
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Elshamy, who has been held in jail without trial since last August, will have his case reviewed on Saturday

Al Jazeera has called upon Egyptian authorities to allow independent medical assistance for jailed journalist Abdullah Elshamy, amid mounting concern for his health.

Since embarking on his hunger strike 100 days ago, Elshamy's weight has dropped from 108kg to 74kg as of April 21.

He has not been examined by a physician during this period, and Egypt does not grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to detainees.

The Egyptian prosecutor will decide on Saturday whether to free Elshamy or extend his detention.

Elshamy has been in jail without trial since last August.

Al Jazeera has called for his case to be considered separately from the approximately 500 others whose cases are being reviewed at the same time, on the grounds that he is a journalist.

Concern is growing given the staging of mass trials in Egypt recently.

Elshamy began his hunger strike by permitting himself only water, milk, juice without sugar, and two dates per day.

After 14 days, he stopped taking dates. By the end of February, at around 38 days, he cut out milk. Since March 16, he has been consuming only water.

Elshamy's wife Gehad Khaled is now also on hunger strike. She began her hunger strike on March 14 and since the start of her third week, has been only taking water.

"It is painful, one hundred days. What makes it worse is the refusal of the Egyptian authorities to allow independent doctors to examine Abdullah," she said.

"I have no idea of his health condition, he has lost an incredible amount of weight, can barely walk and I have no idea what is going on with his organs and nervous system."

“Many people talk to me about what may be happening to our bodies and what may happen to us in the future, but all this talk doesn't matter - because so long as our freedom is stolen from us, what is there to fear?", Khaled added.

Also on Saturday, three Al Jazeera English journalists will have their latest trial hearing.

Saturday [May 3] being World Press Freedom Day, Al Jazeera says it would be an ideal opportunity for Egypt to free all four men.


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