Award-winning Egyptian photojournalist, Mahmoud Shawkan released after 5 years in prison

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Egyptian photographer Mahmoud Abu Zeid, the most high-profile journalist imprisoned by Egypt has been released after more than five years in jail for what human rights groups say was simply doing his job covering anti-government protests.

A picture of a smiling Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, with his father and brother was posted on a family-run Twitter account shortly after his release with the hashtag #Shawkan_is_Free.

“Thank God that it is over,” declared Taher Aboelnasr, his lawyer. “I pray to God that things become easier for him from now on and his life gets better.”

For years, human rights groups, the United Nations, journalist organizations and legions of supporters have waged a campaign to release Shawkan. He became a visible symbol of the ongoing authoritarianism of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who has jailed tens of thousands of opponents and critics of his regime, including many journalists.

According to Amnesty International, sadly, Shawkan is not the only Egyptian put behind bars for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Since December 2017, at least 126 Egyptians have been detained without fair trial, simply for expressing their views.

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