Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy to be released from prison after 21 weeks on hunger strike

Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy will be released from prison today after nearly a year behind bars without charge.

He has been locked up since 14 August 2013 and has been on hunger strike for 21 weeks. Egypt’s prosecutor general ordered his release on medical grounds.

A statement from the prosecutor’s office on Monday also said that 13 other people would be released on the same grounds, according to Al Jazeera.

Elshamy's lawyer, Shaanan Saaed, said he expects him to be released today. He said: "The decision confirms what Al Jazeera Media Network has said that Elshamy was just performing his journalistic duty.”

A spokesman for Al Jazeera said: "This is a relief rather than a cause for celebration. Abdullah has been through a terrible ordeal for over 10 months. He'll want to spend time with his family and recuperate. When he's ready, we look forward to seeing him back in action, doing the vital job of journalism that he so clearly loves."

Elshamy was detained in Tora prison, Cairo, after being arrested while reporting on a police raid on a sit-in in support of the country's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi. In May, his lawyer announced that he was days away from death because of his hunger strike.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera English journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy are still imprisoned, but Al Jazeera said a verdict in their case is due on 23 June.

The broadcaster said that Elshamy’s family were able to visit him in solitary confinement for just 20 minutes earlier this month.

They said that he health had “failed dramatically” and that government statements saying he had visited a hospital were false – he had instead been seen by a medical team in his cell.

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