The National Press Photographers Association has joined the National Press Club, the Committee to Protect Journalists and more than 20 professional journalism and human rights organizations, to urge U.S. officials to help secure the immediate and unconditional release of Mahmoud Abou Zeid, an Egyptian photojournalist who works under the name Shawkan.
Shawkan was arrested nearly five years ago while taking pictures of anti-government protests in Cairo. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 30 by an Egyptian court, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
“Egypt annually receives more than $1 billion aid, funded by the U.S. taxpayers,” said National Press Club President Andrea Edney. “As a country that enshrines freedom of speech and freedom of the press in its Constitution, the United States needs to deliver a message to its ally: Photojournalism is not a crime.”
Shawkan, 31, is an award-winning journalist and one of at least 20 others in detention in Egypt, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
This public statement follows a months-long behind-the-scenes campaign by the Press Club on behalf of its 2016 Press Freedom Award winner. The club and the Journalism Institute have written to Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Reda, Vice President Mike Pence, several U.S. firms that lobby on Egypt’s behalf as well as several key senators about this case.