Greste’s bureau chief: 'no faith' in Egyptian justice

Take note – story published 9 years ago

Mohamed Fahmy, the Cairo bureau chief of Qatari news media group Al Jazeera, jailed in Egypt with fellow journalists Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, released a letter from prison Saturday in which he blasts the “unacceptable draconian verdict” for which he and his colleagues are now serving extended terms. He said he cannot take a final decision regarding the case “mainly because I have no faith in the judicial system.”

Fahmy points out that “my situation is different than where Baher and Peter stand regardless of the sentences.”

“The judgement indicated that I am convicted of master-minding the ‘terror operation’ only because in reality I was the Al Jazeera bureau chief, and the makeshift office and suite rooms in the Marriott were under my name including all its content, staff computers, cameras, and hard disks. Hundreds of so-called incriminating videos are listed against me although my defence never got access to them and none of these so-called fabricated videos were presented in court. Where in the world does the prosecution ask for $170,000 to copy five judgements containing evidence in order for the defence to view them? When our defence did not pay, the court announced that: ‘All the evidence was broadcast in the courtroom.’ That alone is a farce," writes the Canadian-Egyptian dual citizen.

"I have no faith in the judicial system."

In the letter Fahmy goes on to deny that either he or Baher Mohamed ever joined the Muslim Brotherhood, contrary to the Cairo court’s claim that they were members of the outlawed Islamic political movement.

“Where is the evidence of that to convict us and what are the criteria presented by the court to prove our affiliation? I don't remember filling out the application. Instead they jailed us in the terrorist wing of Scorpion prison with hardcore jihadists affiliated with al-Qaeda and fighters who just returned from Syria and Libya, including Mohamed al-Zawhiri and men who fought alongside [Osama] bin Laden in Afghanistan,” writes Fahmy.

Moreover, the Al Jazeera team leader also spoke out against the holding of students arrested around the same time as the journalists and grouped together with them by the prosecution.

"The students convicted and grouped with us in this case are young activists who would be considered citizen journalists in a rational world. The prosecutor included them in the case to create the appearance of a criminal project and conspiracy even though they denied ever meeting us before entering prison and we did too. I told the judge: ‘You have had our mobiles and laptops for months, have you found evidence of a single communication between us and them?’ Of course not. They were originally accused of rioting with no permit in anti-coup protests and threatening police officers. They laughed in prison when they first heard they were now part of the ‘Marriott Cell’ case,” Fahmy describes his frustration with aspects of the show trial.

As for consular channels employed by the Australian and Latvian governments together with their counterparts from the US and other nations, Fahmy wrote that “I still believe in the back-room unannounced diplomatic efforts ongoing with the Egyptian government that even took place during the recent Gaza ceasefire talks, held in Cairo by prominent diplomats.”

“I still believe in the back-room unannounced diplomatic efforts ongoing with the Egyptian government."

But the news producer was not optimistic about the legal options currently available to the jailed Al Jazeera team.

"If an appeal is accepted months from now, we will be paraded in whites again in the circus of a retrial. I did not expect a pardon from President Sisi after Ramadan for a second because this traditional clemency is usually reserved for convicts who have served a substantial amount of their sentence.

We are innocent and the world may be understandably too busy with the wars in Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine to realise that the degrading 57-page judgment report explaining reasons for the verdict completely ignores the 12 hearings and seven months we have spent in prison. I am hopeful that a breakthrough may happen sooner rather than later but I am conversing with many lawyers and still assessing options,” Fahmy says in closing his letter from prison.

"the degrading 57-page judgment report explaining reasons for the verdict completely ignores the 12 hearings and seven months we have spent in prison."

Greste is a dual citizen of both Australia and Latvia, and diplomats from both countries have spoken out and coordinated efforts to secure the release of the Al Jazeera team.

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