02:05 - Source: CNN
Award-winning photojournalist freed
CNN —  

Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid was released from prison on Monday after spending more than five years behind bars.

Abou Zeid – also known as Shawkan – was arrested while taking pictures of a deadly crackdown on a 2013 protest in Cairo where demonstrators were objecting to the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsy. Hundreds of protesters were killed.

Despite his release, Abou Zeid must still spend 12 hours at a police station every day for the next five years, according to Amnesty International.

Mahmoud Abou Zeid gestures from inside a soundproof glass dock during his trial in August 2016.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
Mahmoud Abou Zeid gestures from inside a soundproof glass dock during his trial in August 2016.

“After his release, he faces ludicrous probation measures which require him to spend 12 hours of each day at a police station from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the next five years. These outrageous measures will severely restrict his liberty and should be lifted immediately,” Amnesty International said in a statement Monday.

Abou Zeid is among 200 defendants who were sentenced to five years in prison as part of a mass trial. He was charged with belonging to an illegal group and possessing firearms.

In a CBS interview that aired in January, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi denied holding political prisoners. He was responding to a question about a Human Rights Watch report that estimated that at least 60,000 of Egypt’s prisoners were held on political grounds.

“During his trial, the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish that Mahmoud Abou Zeid was responsible for the offenses with which he was charged,” the Amnesty International statement said.

For the first two years of his imprisonment, Abou Zeid had “no knowledge” of the charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in 2015.

In 2018, Abou Zeid received the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

“The choice of Mahmoud Abu Zeid pays tribute to his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” said Maria Ressa, a Philippine journalist and president of the independent international jury that selected him as a winner.