#FreeAJstaff: One step forward, two steps back: trial adjourned to April 22

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015
By Alexandra Zakreski The retrial of journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed resumed in Cairo today. The session focused on forming a new technical committee to assess video footage the prosecution claims was doctored and falsified to portray Egypt as being in a state of civil war. The trial was adjourned to April 22, almost a month from now, to give the new committee time to analyze the evidence, a length of time that Fahmy has called “excruciating…[and in contradiction of] all assumptions and statements by experts [and] diplomats that Egypt wants to expedite the case proceedings.” Following the progress at last week’s hearing, where testimony from technical witnesses and security officers broke down under cross-examination, today’s events were somewhat disheartening for Fahmy and Mohamed. However, in a more positive development, the technical committee was only tasked with the following:
  1. Report if the videos were edited by removing or adding content and what sort of montage was used.
  2. Verify if there have been any fabrication or lies portrayed in the final video.
  3. Verify which material was actually broadcast.
This is a marked difference from the original trial, where the technical committee was required to attest to whether the videos were meant to threaten national security, a judgment that is beyond the purview of their profession and contributed to the initial unjust conviction. This instruction from Judge Farid illustrates that he has a better understanding of journalism and the two defendants’ plight than his predecessor, who accused Fahmy, Mohamed and their colleague Peter Greste of being brought together by the devil to destabilize the Egyptian regime. Fahmy was also granted permission to file a police report about his missing passport. This will start the bureaucratic process to allow the Canadian embassy to issue a new document, which Fahmy needs to get married, rent a car and live as normal a life as possible while the retrial continues. Baher Mohamed has also not been able to regain his Egyptian identification, something that has prevented him from accessing his bank account. CJFE continues to urge the Egyptian government to drop all charges and release Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed permanently and unconditionally. We further urge the Canadian government to take advantage of the longer adjournment until the next retrial date on April 22 to advocate for Fahmy’s deportation.
Alexandra Zakreski is CJFE’s International Programs Coordinator.

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