Mohamed Fahmy retrial: Protest footage not a security threat, defence lawyer argues

The retrial of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and two colleagues on terrorism-related charges resumed Thursday in Cairo with a defence lawyer arguing there is no evidence that protest footage the journalists shot compromised Egypt's national security.

Court case to resume on June 11

Canadian journalist Mohammed Fahmy speaks during a press conference in Cairo in May 2015. Fahmy is facing a retrial on terrorism-related charges in Egypton on accusations he and his Al-Jazeera co-workers were part of a terrorist group and aired falsified footage. (Hassan Ammar/Associated Press)

The retrial of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and two colleagues on terrorism-related charges resumed Thursday in Cairo with a defence lawyer arguing there is no evidence that protest footage the journalists shot compromised Egypt's national security.

According to reports from the courtroom, defence lawyer Khaled Abu Bakr said Fahmy was jailed for more than 400 days because of a lack of understanding about his profession. Defending the practice of journalism, the lawyer told the court that reporters "must get all points of view and [are] not responsible for what interviewees say," independent journalist Sharif Kouddous tweeted.

Fahmy, the former Cairo bureau chief for Al-Jazeera English, was arrested along Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste at the Marriott Hotel Cairo in December 2013 on charges of aiding a terrorist organization. They spent more than a year behind bars before a new trial was ordered, and they were granted bail in February.

Greste has already been deported back to Australia.

A defence lawyer for Greste argued Thursday that he shouldn't even be in the case because he was thrown out of the country, but Judge Hassan Farid said Greste filed an appeal so he is part of the case.

Abu Bakr said in court that Fahmy was accused of belonging to a terrorist organization even before the Egyptian government designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Egypt has accused Qatar-based Al-Jazeera of being a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, a charge the network has denied.

The lawyer also told the court that Fahmy and his co-workers would have rented an apartment if they had wanted to carry out terrorist activities. Instead, they were staying in the Marriott Hotel when they were arrested.

Fahmy addressed the court himself on the matter of his team's broadcast licence. He told the judge that Al-Jazeera told him the licence was legal, and said he has filed suit against the network over it.

The case was adjourned until June 11 for more closing statements from the defence.

with files from Reuters


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