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Jailed Al Jazeera journalist might not appeal, has 'no faith' in Egypt's judiciary

In a letter smuggled from prison, Mohamed Fahmy says he has no faith in Egypt's judiciary, which convicted him of 'master-minding [a] terror operation'

Ahram Online, Thursday 31 Jul 2014
Mohammed Fahmy
File Photo: Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, appears in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants (Photo: AP)
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Al Jazeera's jailed Egyptian-Canadian journalist says that he is hesitant about filling an appeal against his seven-year jail sentence as he has "no faith" in the Egyptian judicial system.

In a letter smuggled from prison through his family, Mohamed Fahmy said he has not taken a final decision concerning the appeal, especially, he said, after reading the reasoning for the verdict.

Fahmy, the bureau chief of Doha-based Al Jazeera English was arrested in December of last year along with two journalists working for the same network, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed.

The three received seven years in jail on charges of fabricating news falsely portraying Egypt as being in a state of "civil war," as well as aiding or joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Baher Mohamed was handed an extra three-year term for his possession of a spent bullet.

"If an appeal is accepted months from now, we will be paraded in whites again in the circus of a retrial," Fahmy said in the letter published on the website of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) on Wednesday.

"The shocking reality is that officials handling this case consider the simple act of editing a video as an apparent fabrication and that is evident from the judgment, court rhetoric and interrogations," he said.

The reasoning for the verdict was in July, a month after the verdict. The 57-page document stated that the three defendants were brought together "by the devil" to destabilise the country, the AP reported.

Fahmy said the court ignored the defence and denied the lawyers access to evidence unless they paid $170,000, which they did not.

He said he was convicted of "master-minding the terror operation," because he was the bureau chief and he had the makeshift office, in the hotel where they were arrested, booked under his name.

He said the incriminating videos were not shown in court.

Reports from the 12 sessions said the court showed videos of earlier reports by the three journalists which included videos about wild life and Christian life.

Other evidence, he said, contains content that goes back to 2011-2013 when Fahmy was working for CNN Cairo, affirmed by the network, he said, but ignored by the judge. Fahmy said there was no evidence to support the charge he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group of the ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, designated as a terrorist group.

"They jailed us in the terrorist wing of Scorpion prison with hard-core jihadists affiliated with Al Qaeda and fighters who just returned from Syria and Libya, including Mohamed Al-Zawhiri and men who fought alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan," he said.

He said he did not expect a presidential pardon -- legally impossible until all the defendants consume all kinds of appeal.

The three went on trial along with 17 others, whom Fahmy said were citizen journalists that have not had any communication with them before entering prison.

"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."

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