(CAIRO) An Egyptian court has sentenced Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and two other Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years in prison, the last twist in a long-running trial criticized worldwide by press freedom advocates and human rights activists.
Fahmy faced widely denounced terror charges and had spent more than a year in prison before a successful appeal of an earlier conviction resulted in the re-trial which culminated in today’s verdict.
Al-Jazeera English acting director-general responded to the verdict saying it “defies logic and common sense.” “The whole case has been heavily politicized and has not been conducted in a free and fair manner, Mostefa Souag said.
“There is no evidence proving that our colleagues in any way fabricated news or aided and abetted terrorist organizations and at no point during the long drawn out retrial did any of the unfounded allegations stand up to scrutiny.”
The 41-year-old Fahmy’s troubles began in December 2013 when he was working as the Cairo bureau chief for Qatar-based satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English. He and two colleagues were abruptly arrested and charged with a slew of offences, including supporting the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, a banned organization affiliated with ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, and with fabricating footage to undermine the country’s national security.
The trio maintained their innocence throughout, saying they were just doing their jobs, but after a trial which was internationally decried as a sham, they were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms. One of the three men — Australian Peter Greste — was suddenly allowed to leave Egypt before their retrial began, under a law which allows for the deportation of foreign nationals convicted of crimes.
Fahmy gave up his dual Egyptian citizenship while behind bars in the hopes that he could follow the same path, but that didn’t happen. He was, however, granted bail in February shortly after his second trial got underway. Throughout the proceedings Fahmy has pointed out that his case had been complicated by politics in the Middle East, referring to himself as a “pawn” in a rift between Egypt and Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera.
To read the rest of this article published on August 29, 2015 in the National Watch click on the link below.