Tuesday, April 28, 2015
By Alexandra Zakreski Today’s hearing in the retrial of journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed saw another victory for the two defendants, as the court finally heard from the expert technical committee formed to analyze footage produced by the two journalists and their colleague Peter Greste for Al Jazeera English. In a major blow to the prosecution’s claim that Fahmy and Mohamed produced “false news” intended to portray Egypt as being in a state of civil war, the technical committee reported that their analysis demonstrated the two journalists had not fabricated any of the footage. The committee also stated that it was impossible to tell whether any of the footage had been broadcast, and on which channel. They submitted a 280-page report on the evidence. The defence lawyers requested access to the documents, to which they had not yet been granted access. In a somewhat surreal moment for those assembled in the courtroom, the judge called for Peter Greste to appear before the court, despite the fact that Greste returned to Australia on February 1. Even as defence lawyers supplied documentation that he had been deported (under terms of a decree that provides for foreign prisoners to be dealt with by the judiciary of their native country), the judge insisted that Greste would be tried in absentia in the current retrial. It is unclear at this time what the implications would be of a conviction in absentia for Greste; it is possible that it could impede his ability to travel to Egypt (as well as the country’s allies) if an international arrest warrant were issued. Following the proceedings, the retrial was adjourned to May 9. Speaking to reporters following the hearing, Fahmy said that the committee’s testimonial was “a victory because they straight out said there was no editing or fabrication of any sort in the videos that are so-called evidence against us. This is great for us.” He also noted that he and his lawyers are becoming more confident in the belief that the judge may clear both journalists of terrorism charges. CJFE continues to urge the Egyptian government to drop all charges against Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, and to release the two journalists permanently and unconditionally.
Alexandra Zakreski is CJFE’s International Programs Coordinator.
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