Jailed Egyptian Jazeera journalist on hunger strike in "critical" condition

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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 Tuesday.

Abdullah Elshamy was arrested on August 14 when police opened fire on supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Mursi 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 "anemia, the start of kidney failure, low blood pressure and hypoglycemia (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 a 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 40 kilograms (88 pounds) 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 Mursi's supporters since July when the army ousted him.

On May 3, 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 12 square meters (130 square feet)," 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 Mursi's blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

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

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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