The reporter, Abdullah Elshamy, is an Al Jazeera correspondent who was swept up by the military-backed government during its bloody raid on an Islamist sit-in in Cairo last Aug. 14. He began a hunger strike four months ago to draw attention to his prolonged detention without trial.
He was transferred last week to solitary confinement in the notorious wing of Cairo’s Tora prison known as Scorpion after he managed to record a surreptitious video message from his cell. In a letter from prison, Mr. Elshamy wrote that the authorities had tried to force-feed him. The images posted on Facebook on Wednesday showed him holding pieces of food, but his brother Mosa’ab, a photographer, suggested that they had been staged.
In a statement responding to the photographs, his family expressed concern about “the pressure or duress that Abdullah was put under for these images to be staged.” They added:
We emphatically stress that these images do not present any proof of the prison’s narrative. Until we are permitted to visit Abdullah, and check on his health and treatment, all these images raise are more concerns. The release of these images is not surprising to anyone who has followed Abdullah’s case. His hunger strike, as described by him in his last message from Aqrab prison, “bothers them a lot” and they want to “break me” because of it. Regardless of his strike, the key issue remains that Abdullah is a journalist who has spent nine months in “temporary” detention, without charge, without trial and without release. We urgently demand an end to his arbitrary detention, and for the prison authorities to stop playing God with Abdullah’s life.