#FreeAJstaff: At fifth hearing, Mohamed Fahmy calls trial “a joke”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

By Alexandra Zakreski and Francine Navarro

On April 10, 2014, the trial of three Al Jazeera English journalists – Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste, and Baher Mohamed – reconvened for the fifth time in a Cairo court. Fahmy, Greste, and Mohamed have now been in jail for 103 days. The case was adjourned once again, this time to April 22, and Al Jazeera continues to reject the charges of spreading false news, belonging to a terrorist group and operating without a permit.

Today’s court appearance followed a week of fervent advocacy for the Al Jazeera journalists’ release. Demonstrations were held around the world on April 7 to mark their 100th day in prison. Supporters gathered in London, South Africa, and New York to show their solidarity for the journalists, and many took to social media to call for their release.

The prosecution was also condemned as a “vindictive farce” by human rights organization Amnesty International, which issued a strongly worded statement against the journalists’ continued detention on April 9.

Adel Fahmy remains hopeful that his brother and his brother's colleagues will be found innocent and stressed that “diplomatic pressure and media pressure are very important” in pushing for their release. Expressing his frustration with their ordeal, he takes aim at the baseless charges, declaring “there shouldn’t have been a case all along.”

The absurdity of the trial was made abundantly clear today, when the judge dismissed evidence presented by the prosecution on the grounds that it was unrelated to the charges. The court was shown video recordings and photographs – including a BBC documentary about Somalia, excerpts of a press conference in Kenya, and an image of Greste’s parents – that purportedly supported the case against the detained journalists.

Defence lawyers affirmed that the material bore no relevance to the case, and the journalists derided the apparent lack of evidence against them. “Someone needs to answer for why we’ve been in prison for four months,” Fahmy demanded. Greste adds, “It’s obvious the prosecutors have not even looked at our videos.”

At their last court appearance on March 31, the three journalists were allowed to appeal directly to the judges for their release on bail. The court denied their requests.

More information

Keep track of developments in the trial and detention of Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt with our #FreeAJStaff: Timeline

See our infographic for more information about the continued detainment of the Al Jazeera journalists, and if you haven’t already, please sign and share our petition to free Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed.

Alexandra Zakreski is CJFE's International Programs Assistant. Francine Navarro is the Research and Publications Assistant at CJFE.