In 2013, Egyptian authorities arrested renown photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, also known as Shawkan, while he was taking pictures of a deadly crackdown.

After over five years behind bars where he suffered torture and other ill-treatment, Abou Zeid was finally released on Monday.

The news has been widely celebrated by human rights advocates and international organizations.

"Mahmoud Abou Zeid was arrested and imprisoned solely for doing his job"

The Egyptian photographer was first jailed in Aug. 2013 on charges of weapons possession, illegal assembly, murder, and attempted murder, which Amnesty International describes as "trumped-up charges."

He was arrested along with two foreign journalists, but the latter were released the same day.

The charges against him were among hundreds that came about following clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. 

The photojournalist had been sentenced to five years in prison. Despite that, prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove its claims, according to human rights organizations.

"Mahmoud Abou Zeid was arrested and imprisoned solely for doing his job as a journalist. His conviction, more than five years later, on trumped-up charges during a grossly unfair mass trial alongside more than 700 other defendants was a mockery of justice," said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's North Africa Campaigns Director.

During his time in prison, Abou Zeid reportedly suffered several forms of ill-treatment and was not receiving the medical care he requires for Hepatitis C.

Abou Zeid's arrest and prosecution grabbed public attention, with international human rights groups repeatedly calling for his release. 

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions qualified his arrest and detention as "arbitrary and contrary to the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

The photojournalist received numerous international awards during his detention, including the UNESCO Press Freedom Prize.

He's not yet free

Having served five years in pre-trial detention, Abou Zeid was released earlier this week. "I can't describe how I feel. I am free," he told Reuters soon after his release.

According to Al Jazeera, authorities also released other 214 individuals who had been sentenced to five years in prison alongside Abou Zeid.

However, he is still required to undergo an additional five-year probation period during which he has to spend 12 hours per day at a police station.

Amnesty's Bounaim has described these measures as "ludicrous" and "outrageous," demanding they be lifted immediately.

Several journalists are currently detained in Egypt

According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the number of detained peaceful dissidents has increased to "the tens of thousands" under the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, with at least 20 journalists in detention as of April 2018. 

HRW thus called upon Egyptian authorities to respect the freedom of expression and release political prisoners and journalists.

According to media outlets, Egyptian authorities have been using powerful security agencies to censor newspapers and broadcasters as well as prosecuting those who violate their standards.