Egyptian photographer gets 15 years for covering protests

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Alia Awad, a freelance photographer who has just been sentenced to 15 years in prison at the end of a mass trial in Cairo because she filmed protesters who have themselves just been convicted on terrorism charges. 

We call for Alia Awad’s immediate release and for her conviction to be overturned,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “This journalist was just doing her job and the charges brought against her were completely baseless.

Jailed since 2017, Awad received the 15-year sentence on 28 June from a state security court that has been trying around 100 people for their role in protests in the south Cairo suburb of Helwan in 2015.

Dubbed the “Helwan Brigades” case in the pro-government media, the trial ended with defendants being convicted of “illegal demonstrations,” “violence against the security forces” and “vandalism.” Some were sentenced to death. Awad was convicted on terrorism and vandalism charges.

Awad was first arrested in October 2014 for filming the violently suppressed rallies in Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square (east of Cairo), organised between 2013 and 2015 to protest against President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in a military coup. Awad was finally released on health grounds in 2016 but was rearrested in the same case in October 2017.

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