Abdullah Elshamy, an Al Jazeera correspondent, has now been in prison for 175 days and on hunger strike for a little over two weeks.
"I’ve lost a number of pounds. I only rely on liquids. The littlest effort makes me feel dizzy,"he wrote in a letter smuggled out of his prison cell, where he isn’t allowed access to pens or paper. “But it’s what I feel compelled to do in order to raise awareness about the importance of freedom of speech.”
Abdullah—who was arrested during August last year when armed police violently cleared a sit-in by supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi—is one of four Al Jazeera journalists in jail, all held on vague charges while prosecutors prepare formal proceedings. They are among the dozens of reporters in Egypt who have been beaten up or detained over the past six months. Nine more have been killed since the start of the uprising in 2011.
These arrests and many of the deaths are symptomatic of what the country has turned into since the army ousted the Muslim Brotherhood–affiliated Morsi last summer. Egypt’s interim government is doing everything in its power to silence Brotherhood sympathizers, crushing the country’s revolutionary street movements by issuing a law that effectively bans any form of public protest.
Protesters Are Dying in the Streets of Kiev, Ukraine
The anti-government demonstrations in Kiev have taken a deadly turn, as the news on Wednesday was dominated by fights between protesters and riot police in the gas and smoke-strewn streets of the Ukrainian capital. In the morning, the BBC posted a video of a man lying in the snow. By nightfall, four other deaths had been reported. Ironically, news of the casualties—the first in a period of civil unrest that began two months ago—came on Ukraine’s Day of National Unity.
“I think this is the start of a civil war,” Yaroslav Hrytsak, a well-known historian and public intellectual, said Wednesday night on Ukrainian public radio. Street battles continued in the area around Kiev’s Hrushevskoho Street, as protesters armed with Molotov cocktails faced off with riot police. As the two sides struggled, some protesters constructed a trebuchet that looked like it would be more at home in a medieval siege than a protest in 2014 aimed at steering an ostensibly democratic country toward the European Union.
“We thought it was OK to ask about his love life,” Wes said. “Our friend told us that. Two friends. He had 35,000 lovers.”
The driver rolled his eyes. “Two hundred thousand. Two million…” He was on a roll, his voice thick with sarcasm. “My aunt, she slept with Fidel. My grandmother, she slept with Fidel. My uncle, he slept with Fidel. You know, we have all slept with Fidel. Fidel and I made love in this car.”
We traveled to Rio de Janeiro to meet the man who broke the biggest news story of 2013. Glenn Greenwald is an American journalist and author who’s best known for reporting on the leaks of classified National Security Agency documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Before he was a journalist, Greenwald was a constitutional law and civil rights litigator, and until 2012 he was a contributing writer at Salon. He has authored four books: How Would a Patriot Act, Tragic Legacy, Great American Hypocrites, and With Liberty and Justice for Some. For 14 months Greenwald was a columnist at the Guardian, where he broke the first NSA story in June of 2013. He has since left the newspaper to team up with filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Jeremy Scahill to start a new media venture, First Look Media, backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.