Thursday, June 25, 2015
By Alexandra Zakreski Today’s hearing in the retrial of journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste (in absentia) and Baher Mohamed focused on the closing arguments of the defence attorneys for the students that are being charged in the same case. In addition to the three reporters, six other defendants are being prosecuted, including four students. Judge Hassan Farid adjourned the retrial to June 29 after it became clear that one of the students, Sohaib Saad, was not present in the courtroom. Saad was reported missing almost 20 days ago by his friends and family; he was later found at Tora Prison. During today’s session, lawyers for the students emphasized that these defendants had no connection to the “Marriot Cell” journalists, as they have been known in Egypt, and had never even met Fahmy, Greste or Mohamed prior to their detention; lawyers for the journalists have consistently maintained the same stance. Attorneys for the students also told the judge that these defendants were tortured during interrogations. Speaking to reporters outside of the courtroom following the hearing, Fahmy said that he was “pretty confident that we will be exonerated [on] the charges related to fabrication of videos,” but he conceded that he was less confident that they would be acquitted on the charge of operating without a license. Fahmy and his defence team have repeatedly emphasized that it is the duty of the network and not of individual journalists to ensure proper accreditation for reporters. The hearing coincided with the release of a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, “Egypt’s imprisonment of journalists is at an all time high,” which states that Egyptian authorities are currently holding at least 18 journalists in prison. This is likely a conservative estimate, as local Egyptian organizations have put the figure at as many as 60 journalists imprisoned in the country. CJFE continues to call on Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed; we further urge the Egyptian government to release all prisoners of conscience in the country.
Alexandra Zakreski is CJFE’s International Programs Coordinator.
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