Wednesday, April 22, 2015
By Alexandra Zakreski After an “excruciating” adjournment that lasted nearly a month, journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed appeared today in a Cairo court to resume their retrial on terrorism charges. Following the session, the case was adjourned to April 28. The lengthy adjournment had been ordered by the judge to give the newly formed technical committee time to review video footage evidence produced by Fahmy, Mohamed and their colleague Peter Greste. The prosecution has argued that segments were falsified and manipulated in order to give the impression that Egypt was in a state of civil war. However, instead of delivering their report on the footage, the committee requested a translator to help them review the videos since none of its members speak English. The report is expected to be delivered at the next hearing. Following this Naguib Sawiris, prominent Egyptian businessman and media owner, took the stand to testify as a character witness for Fahmy. Sawiris stated vehemently that Fahmy “has no relation to the Muslim Brotherhood” and in fact, “participated in the 25 January Revolution and was supportive of the 30 June revolution that toppled the Brotherhood.” He also urged the judge to differentiate between the journalists in the case and the network that employs them, saying “The correspondents will go out and record the news and then send it to someone else who is responsible for putting that together into the news that is broadcast.” The prosecution has previously referenced the repackaging of footage produced by Fahmy, Mohamed and Greste for the banned Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr channel as evidence that the three journalists were working illegally and in support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Last week, Fahmy revealed that the terrorism charges against he and Mohamed may be dropped and credit granted for time served on the remaining charges relating to operating without a license. In another positive development, Fahmy has finally been able to obtain a Canadian passport; the journalist had been without any officially recognized identification since his original passport was confiscated upon his arrest and he rescinded his Egyptian citizenship. previously refused to issue Fahmy a passport on the grounds that he was subject to “court-imposed travel restrictions,” despite the fact that various levels of the Egyptian security services and judiciary had given the Canadian Embassy the go ahead to issue a new passport. After substantial outcry and criticism the federal government relented, with Minister Chris Alexander stating on Monday that “After several weeks of intervention by government officials on Mr. Fahmy’s behalf, we are now in a position to issue Mr. Fahmy a passport despite ongoing legal issues and travel restrictions.” The document will allow Fahmy much needed freedom of movement within Egypt, where he had been subject to arrest and detention at any of the myriad security checkpoints throughout the country for lacking official identification. Baher Mohamed was also supplied with new Egyptian identification, as he too had been without any official documents since his arrest in December 2013. 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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