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Parents of jailed Al-Jazeera journalist demand his immediate release

International concern is growing over the safety of Egyptian journalist Abdullah Elshamy, who has been detained without charge for over 8 months and on hunger strike for 93 days
The mother of detained journalist Abdullah Elshamy speaking at a press conference in Doha (AFP)

The family of an Al-Jazeera reporter detained in Egypt since August and on hunger strike since January 21 warned on Wednesday that his health is deteriorating, and called for his release.

Abdullah Elshamy, a journalist for the Qatari pan-Arab satellite news network, was arrested on August 14 when police dispersed supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi at the massive Rabaa Al-Adawiya protest camp in Cairo, killing hundreds in clashes.

"I call upon the public prosecutor, who is a father, to answer the plea of a mother by releasing Abdullah today," Thuraya Elshamy said at a news conference organised by Al-Jazeera in Doha.

"My son is a journalist -- journalism is not a crime," she said.

Elshamy's father urged action to save the life of his son, stressing that "his health has deteriorated due to the hunger strike".

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He also revealed that he had sent a letter to the Red Cross, requesting that they send a medical team to assess the condition of his son, who is now on his 93rd day of hunger strike.

In a separate case, three other journalists for Al-Jazeera English -- Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed -- face charges of spreading news that falsely sought to portray Egypt in a state of "civil war" and colluding with Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

On Tuesday a court in Egypt heard new prosecution evidence, including audio tapes, against some of the journalists, before setting the next hearing for May 3.

Many activists have taken to Twitter to point out the “irony” of the upcoming hearing being set for May 3, which is also World Press Freedom Day.

On Monday the US State Department announced its “deep concerns” regarding “restrictions of freedom of expression in Egypt”, while in London BBC journalists launched a demonstration in solidarity with the detained reporters.  

With growing international pressure on the Egyptian judiciary, commentators have called on authorities to free all the captive al-Jazeera staff in the interests of kick-starting a desired revival for Egypt’s spiralling economy:

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