Egyptian tycoon Sawiris testifies in favour of Al-Jazeera journalist Fahmy

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Wednesday 22 Apr 2015

Businessman and media mogul Naguib Sawiris took the stand on Wednesday to testify in favour of his ‘long time acquaintance’ Al-Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy

Naguib Sawiris (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian tycoon and media mogul Naguib Sawiris took the stand on Wednesday to testify in favour of his "long time acquaintance" Al-Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy.

Fahmy and two other Al-Jazeera journalists were originally sentenced to between seven and ten years in prison on charges including spreading false news and aiding the banned Muslim Brotherhood, which they have denied. An appeal is currently underway.

Sawiris, who was testifying upon a request from the journalist's defence team, said Fahmy used to conduct interviews with him for CNN.

"I can assure you, based on my knowledge of [Fahmy], he doesn't belong to the [Muslim] Brotherhood," Sawiris stated.

"According to my knowledge, [Fahmy] participated in the 25 January revolution and he was one of the endorsers of 30 June revolution, which toppled the Brotherhood's regime," he added.

Answering a question from the prosecution on what is the difference between Al-Jazeera English and Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, Sawiris said Al-Jazeera English tries to tackle issues objectively.

Sawiris added that on the other hand, Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr incites, lacks professionalism and objectivity and had a role in defaming Egypt's image.

The business tycoon also said that Al-Jazeera English showed breaking news of anti-Muslim Brotherhood protests in July 2013, while Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr showed the protests as small and sporadic.

During his testimony, Sawiris said that professionally, a reporter can conduct an interview with a "terrorist" as it is considered as a scoop, but personally he does not agree as it gives them platform.

He also said that journalists usually carry video equipment of their channel with them.

When the Al-Jazeera journalists were arrested in Cairo's Marriot hotel, some of the evidence collected in their possession included Al-Jazeera video equipment and interview materials.

The trial was on Wednesday postponed until 28 April, and the court ordered that one of the defendants, Australian journalist Peter Greste, be brought to court.

Greste was deported to his home country in February as per a new law that permits foreigners to carry out their prison sentences or trials in their countries.

Fahmy, who had dual Egyptian-Canadian citizenship, gave up his Egyptian nationality so that he could be deported to Canada, but he is still in Egypt.

Earlier on Wednesday, Fahmy showed up in front of the courthouse, where he is being retried, with a new Canadian passport as his old one was taken from him the moment he was arrested.

"After several weeks of intervention by government officials on Mr Fahmy's behalf, we are now in a position to issue Mr Fahmy's passport despite ongoing legal issues and travel restrictions," Kevin Menard, a spokesman for Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, said in an email on Monday.


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