The family of an Al-Jazeera journalist detained alongside Australian Peter Greste in Egypt for nearly eight months has called for his immediate release, saying his health has deteriorated during a hunger strike.
Abdullah Elshamy, a journalist for the pan-Arab news network, was arrested on August 14 when police dispersed supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi at the massive Rabaa Al-Adaweya protest camp in Cairo, killing hundreds in clashes.
Since the army ousted Morsi in July, the military-installed authorities have criticised the Qatar-based channel’s coverage of the crackdown on his supporters.
In a statement on Tuesday, Elshamy’s family called for his “immediate and unconditional release, after his health has deteriorated as a result of a hunger strike that has made him lose more than 30 kilos”.
It said Elshamy started his hunger strike on January 21 to protest his detention.
“Because we are convinced that our son did not commit any fault or did not commit anything punished by law we thought he would be released,” the family said, adding that he was being held in “places that are difficult and bad.”
Three other Al-Jazeera journalists, including Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Greste, have been detained for over 100 days and are currently on trial over charges of spreading false news and supporting Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Their trial, in which 20 defendants stand accused, has sparked an international outcry and fuelled fears of a media crackdown by the authorities.
Qatar was a close ally of Morsi’s government, and Egypt accuses the gas-rich Gulf state of backing his Islamist movement, including through Al-Jazeera.