Al Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy released the following statement to Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) through his family. Facing the difficult decision of whether to appeal his guilty verdict to the same corrupt judiciary that unjustly convicted him in the first place, Fahmy addresses the plight that he and his colleagues are facing.
Fahmy and his Al Jazeera English colleagues Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste have been detained in Egypt since December 29, 2013. Fahmy has been sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news. Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste have announced that they plan to appeal the verdict.
By Mohamed Fahmy
I have not taken a final decision yet regarding appealing the unacceptable draconian verdict against me, mainly because I have no faith in the judicial system. This is especially true after reading the judgment and the audacity of the judge, who ignored the defense, to repeat all the blanket accusations of the National Security Council; disregarding the contradictory testimonies of the head of technical committee and his tongue slip in court under pressure stating, "The prosecutor changed our written testimonies."
On paper, my situation is different than where Baher and Peter stand regardless of the sentences. The judgment 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 defense never got access to them and none of these so-called fabricated videos were presented in court. Where in the world does prosecution ask for $170,000 to copy 5 CD's containing evidence in order for the defense to view them? When our defense did not pay, the court announced that "All the evidence was broadcast in the courtroom." That alone is a farce.
To add insult to injury, the bulk of "evidence" listed against me comes from the confiscated Al Jazeera hard-drive that contains content that goes back to 2011-2013 when I was reporting for CNN Cairo before I joined Al Jazeera. The judge again ignored this fact, proven by an official CNN document confirming these dates which was furnished to the judge by my legal counsel.
Baher and myself are accused and wrongly convicted of being members of the Muslim Brotherhood. 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 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.
The court presented personal photos taken off my phone portraying me with former president Mohamed Morsi in the palace during a CNN interview alongside veteran anchor Wolf Blitzer, in addition to photos with other Muslim Brotherhood figures. Why did the court not display photos on my phone with pro-military figures like Mr. Amr Moussa and Mr. El Baradei?
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. The judge refused to allow an independent technical committee to view the allegedly fabricated videos and only accepted the evaluation of the State TV technical committee; a big question mark!
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, and again ignored. 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.
If an appeal is accepted months from now, we will be paraded in whites again in the circus of a retrial. I still believe in the back-room unannounced diplomatic efforts ongoing with the Egyptian government that even took place during the recent Gaza cease fire talks, held in Cairo by prominent diplomats. 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 realize 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.
Mohamed Fadel Fahmy
Al Jazeera English Egypt Bureau Chief
For background on Mohamed Fahmy’s case, and to learn more about the #FreeAJstaff campaign, visit cjfe.org/Aljazeera.