Egypt prosecutor orders hunger-striking al-Jazeera journalist freed

Egypt prosecutor orders hunger-striking al-Jazeera journalist freed

CAIRO - Agence France-Presse
Egypt prosecutor orders hunger-striking al-Jazeera journalist freed

Al Jazeera's hunger striking journalist Abdullah Elshamy stands behind bars with other prisoners at a court in Cairo, May 15. REUTERS Photo

Egypt's prosecutor general on June 16 ordered the release of Al-Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy, who has been on hunger strike for nearly five months, the official MENA news agency reported.

Elshamy, who works for the main Arabic-language channel of the Qatar-based network, was arrested on August 14 last year when police dispersed protest camps in Cairo set up by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. MENA did not specify when he would actually be freed.

"Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat ordered the release of 13 defendants... among them Abdallah Elshamy, a correspondent with Qatari channel al-Jazeera, due to their health conditions," MENA said.

Al-Jazeera swiftly issued a statement calling for the release of others of its staff on trial in a separate case. "After the decision to release Elhami, al-Jazeera demands Egyptian authorities free its remaining journalists," the channel said a beroadcast statement.

"The decision to free Elshami reiterates what al-Jazeera had previously said - that Elshami was professionally carrying out his duty as a journalist." Elshamy, who has yet to face trial, has been on hunger strike since January 21 to protest his detention, according to his family.

The military-installed authorities have been incensed by al-Jazeera's coverage of their crackdown on Morsi supporters, in which more than 1,400 have been killed in street clashes and at least 15,000 jailed. The news of Elshamy's expected release came hours after an Egyptian court said it will issue its verdict on June 23 in the trial of three other al-Jazeera journalists accused of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.