National Press Club

National Press Club and NPC Journalism Institute to Egyptian President: Free Shawkan

April 3, 2017 | By Kathy Kiely | kkiely@press.org

As Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi ​visits the White House on Monday for a meeting with President Donald Trump, the National Press Club and its Journalism Institute call on Egypt to release the club's 2017 Press Freedom award winner, Mahmoud Abou Zeid, a photojournalist who works under the name Shawkan.

Shawkan was arrested in 2013 for documenting violence by Egyptian security forces during street protests there. According to Amnesty International, he has been held for more than two years - in violation of Egyptian law - and has been denied medication for a serious medical condition, hepatitis C.

"As Presidents Trump and el-Sisi ​meet to discuss ways to combat terrorism, they should remind themselves that there is such a thing as state-sponsored terrorism and that it includes repression of the press," said National Press Club President Jeff Ballou. "It is a mark of the strength of a country that it can withstand criticism from within."

Ballou's Al Jazeera colleague, Mahmoud Hussein, is also in an Egyptian jail. According to various press freedom groups, more than two dozen journalists are currently detained in Egypt.

The State Department has budgeted more than $1 billion in military assistance this year for Egypt. In addition, the country receives substantial amounts of other foreign aid from U.S. taxpayers: some $1.6 billion in 2015, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

"Along with money and arms, we hope that President Trump will take an active role in promoting one of the most priceless of American exports: freedom of speech," said the National Press Club Journalism Institute's Press Freedom fellow, Kathy Kiely.

The National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the club works to promote freedom of expression and transparency at home and abroad. The National Press Club Journalism Institute, a non-profit affiliate, equips news professionals with the skills to innovate, leverages emerging trends, recognizes innovators and mentors the next generation.

Contact: Kathy Kiely, NPC Journalism Institute Press Freedom Fellow (202) 256-4748 or kkiely@press.org