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Jailed journalist on hunger strike in Egypt 'critical'

13 May 2014, 19:04

Cairo - An Al-Jazeera journalist held in Egypt since August is in "critical" health and could slip into a coma after more than 100 days on hunger strike, his brother said on Tuesday.

Abdullah Elshamy was arrested on 14 August when police dispersed supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, killing hundreds in clashes.

The journalist, who works for the Qatar-based pan-Arab news network, went on hunger strike in January to protest his detention and has yet to face trial.

Abdullah is suffering from "anaemia, the start of kidney failure, low blood pressure and hypoglycaemia (glucose deficiency in the blood stream)," one of his brothers, Mosaab Elshamy, told AFP.

"He is at a critical stage and needs to be transferred to hospital," Mosaab said, providing AFP with a copy of a blood test Elshamy did last week.

At the start of his hunger strike Elshamy drank juice and other sugary drinks but for the past month he has only been taking water, his brother said.

Elshamy has shed around 40kg over the past 112 days, he added.

"He can go into a coma if he doesn't take perfusions and if his blood sugar remains low... it is the start of the most dangerous period," he added.

Mosaab added that his brother had been recently moved from his prison cell to an unknown location. "Surely he is still in jail but we don't know where and we cannot communicate with him."

Elshamy's lawyer, Shaaban Saeed, told AFP his client was accused of joining a "terrorist group" and spreading false news.

"My client is paying the price for working for a channel that opposes the ruling regime," Saeed said.


The military-installed authorities have been incensed by Al-Jazeera's coverage of their crackdown on Morsi's supporters since July when the army ousted him.

On 3 May, a court remanded Elshamy into custody for another 45-day period. That day Elshamy appeared in court looking gaunt.

"I haven't seen my lawyer. We are 15 people in a cell of 12m²," he told reporters from the dock.

Three other Al-Jazeera journalists, who work for the network's English-language channel, are held in Egypt and on trial for defamation and supporting Morsi's blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

Their trial of Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, and 17 other co-defendants, has sparked an international outcry.



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