Abdel Rahman Shaheen, a correspondent for Freedom and Justice Gate, is serving a total of six years in prison after being convicted in two separate cases.
In February 2015, a Suez court sentenced Shaheen to three years on charges of aiding terrorism and broadcasting false news, according to the local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture Observatory. The correspondent for Freedom and Justice Gate was already in prison serving a three-year sentence on charges of inciting and committing violence during protests.
Shaheen was initially arrested on the street in Suez City, according to news reports. His outlet, Freedom and Justice Gate, is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government has declared a terrorist organization.
In June 2014, a Suez court hearing the first case sentenced Shaheen to three years in prison and 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,400) on charges of inciting and committing violence during protests.
Freedom and Justice Gate denied the allegations against Shaheen in a statement issued shortly after the journalist’s arrest. Shaheen’s wife said the court did not allow his defense lawyer to present his case and did not inform them of the verdict, news reports said. Two appeals were denied, according to his employer and Journalists Against Torture Observatory. The journalist completed his sentence in the first case in mid-2017, and started serving the next three-year sentence. In Egypt, sentences run consecutively.
In June 2016, a court hearing the second case against Shaheen agreed to the journalist’s request to appeal his conviction of aiding terrorism and broadcasting false news, Shaheen’s wife told Journalists Against Torture Observatory.
On December 28, 2016, a military court hearing an appeal in a third case against Shaheen, in which the journalist was sentenced to life in prison on multiple charges of murder, overturned the conviction on appeal, according to press freedom groups. The charges relate to an August 14, 2013, violent dispersal by security forces of a sit-in of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi at the Raba’a Al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo. Hundreds died in the dispersal, triggering violence and unrest throughout the country, in which dozens more people were killed.
In a letter written by Shaheen in prison and published by his outlet in August 2015, the journalist denied all charges against him and said he believed he was targeted due to his former affiliation with the international broadcaster Al-Jazeera, which Egypt banned on the accusation that it uses its reporting to serve the interests of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera confirmed to CPJ in October 2015 that Shaheen had been working for the network up until his arrest, but that he and his family requested that the outlet not campaign for his release for fear that it could harm his chances of release.
Shaheen is being held in Suez’ Ataqa Prison, according to local press freedom groups that cited his wife. Prison guards have denied Shaheen’s wife her visiting rights on more than one occasion, she said.
As of late 2019, no hearings had been scheduled in Shaheen’s appeal against the conviction of aiding terrorism and broadcasting false news, a family member and a researcher at the Egyptian Observatory for Journalism and Media, both of whom asked not to be named for fear of retribution, told CPJ.
Shaheen has asthma and a neck hernia, but he has been denied medical attention, the relative said.
As of late 2019, the Ministry of Interior, which has oversight of the police and prison system, and the prosecutor general’s office had not answered CPJ’s emails requesting comment.