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Egyptian press photographer held without charge for past 14 months

Arrested while covering the Rabaa massacre, Mahmoud Abu Zied has been badly mistreated and is now in poor health.

This article first appeared on rsf.org on 8 October 2014:

Reporters Without Borders condemns freelance news photographer Mahmoud Abu Zied's arbitrary detention without trial or charge for the past 14 months. His detention was extended for another 45 days on 2 October.

Known by the pseudonym of “Shawkan,” 27-year-old Zied was arrested in Cairo's Al-Tayaran Street on 14 August 2013 while providing the Demotix and Corbix agencies with coverage of the government's use of force to clear former President Mohamed Morsi's supporters from Rabaa Al-Awadiya Square.

After being held in various detention centres, he is now in Cairo's biggest prison, Tora, where he is in very poor heath. According to Amnesty International, he has been badly mistreated since his arrest.

“Arresting journalists and holding them in preventive detention on the basis of unfounded allegations is indicative of the orchestrated crackdown on independent reporting in Egypt,” Reporters Without Borders deputy programme director Virginie Dangles said.

“The situation of journalists in Egypt has become very worrying. Reporters Without Borders calls on the Egyptian authorities to free Zied immediately and unconditionally and urges the international community to keep raising his case in order to obtain his release as soon as possible.”

In a letter from prison, the emotionally exhausted Zied compared his situation in Tora prison to “a black hole, where all things are the same, and everything is black.”

His brother has created a Facebook page to rally support in the international community.

Three journalists – Ahmed Abdel Gawad, Mosab Al-Shami and Mick Dean – were among the estimated 700 to 1,000 people killed when soldiers and police used force to evict the demonstrators from Rabaa Al-Awadiya Square.

Although one of the bloodiest episodes's in Egypt's contemporary history, no investigation was been carried out in the past 14 months and no one has been held to account for this massacre.

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