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Monday, January 27, 2014

Egyptian Journalist Explains Hunger Strike in Prison Letter

Abdullah Elshamy, an Egyptian journalist for Al Jazeera who was detained in August while covering the bloody crackdown on an Islamist sit-in in Cairo, has embarked on a hunger strike, according to a letter from prison that was posted online by his family on Monday.

Mr. Elshamy, the Qatari network’s West Africa correspondent before his arrest, is one of five Al Jazeera journalists currently being held in jail by the military-backed government that took power in July and swiftly moved to shut down media outlets considered sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood and the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi.

His letter was posted on Facebook by his brother, Mosa’ab Elshamy, a photojournalist and blogger, just hours after another letter from his colleague, Peter Greste, an Australian reporter was released by Al Jazeera’s English-language channel.

Here is the complete text of Mr. Elshamy’s letter:

It’s three in the morning while everyone in the cell is fast asleep. A breeze of air penetrates the ceiling full of iron rods in a hurry, 16 of us are lying in an space of 12 meters. By my right and left bags dangle and are narrowly fit to help us live in this place.

I say life timidly and reluctantly, as there is no life here. Today I complete 160 days of captivity in jail without any charges. Outside, there are colleagues who live with consent to be mouthpieces and witnesses to the violation of the freedom of media and agree to it.

I do not regret any day I’ve stayed in this place. Neither have I made any offense against any human being nor participated in the falsification of anyone’s consciousness. My work is available on the Internet for those who want to see it, I take pride of my work in Al Jazeera network. I will always say that regardless of where I was.

I do not belong to any group or ideology. I belong to my conscience and my humanity, and I do not take interest in what is been said in the local media about me or my colleagues. History doesn’t forget.

Our freedom will prevail, for my colleagues â€" Mohamed Badr, Muhammad Fahmi, Baher Ghorab, Peter Greste â€" and myself.

We are witnesses of freedom and will always be remembered as that. I know that a prosecutor who’s clearly lost his senses of justice or a judge who works by orders from above will all be forgotten and despised.

I chose to be on hunger strike to send a few messages; one to journalists who choose to falsify the facts and cover up for the violations of freedoms and media, the other to the Egyptian junta that I do not fear losing my life in my struggle for freedom. Nothing will break my will or dignity.

Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.