Saudi lawyer Ahmed El-Rashed, who is defending Ahmed El-Gizawi, the Egyptian lawyer detained in Saudi Arabia on charges of smuggling pharmaceutical drugs, said Friday night that he holds evidence of his client's innocence and that he will be requesting of court that Egyptian and Saudi media attend the trial.
El-Rashed told private satellite television channel Al-Hayat that El-Gizawi told him he carried the pharmaceutical pills in his suitcase, sale of which is illegal in the oil-rich kingdom, but only to transport and not to sell them, and that he was not aware that they were illegal.
El-Rashed added that he holds documents that count as proof of El-Gizawi's innocence, including the customs fine made against El-Gizawi at the airport, before airport authorities found out the drugs were Xanax.
El-Rashed, who said he has attended all of El-Gizawi's investigation sessions, told Al-Hayat that he will be filing a request to the court to allow the trial of El-Gizawi to be public by letting Saudi and Egyptian media cover trial sessions.
El-Gizawi was detained upon arrival at the King Abdullah Airport in Jeddah on 18 April. He was first said to have been detained for allegedly "defaming the king" after he filed a lawsuit in a South Cairo court against Saudi monarch King Abdullah Bin Abdel Aziz Al-Saud. However, the Saudi Embassy in Egypt later released a statement saying he was arrested at the airport for the illegal possession of over 20.000 Xanax pain relief pills.
A diplomatic row between the two countries was triggered after the arrest of El-Gizawi by Saudi authorities. Following his detention, dozens of Egyptian demonstrators staged a sit-in outside the Saudi Embassy in Cairo. Later Saudi authorities closed the embassy and Saudi consulates and recalled its ambassador for consultations. A top level delegation of politicians and public figures headed by People's Assembly Speaker Saad El-Katatni visited Riyadh on Friday 4 May and met with King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud to patch up strained ties. The Saudi ambassador returned to Cairo the next day.