CAIRO: Interim President Adly Mansour sent a letter on Sunday to the family of jailed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, in detention in Tora Prison while facing trial, a copy of which was tweeted by his family members on Sunday.
“It is important to acknowledge that the judiciary system is independent, and I trust that your son is getting his legal rights, but this will not keep me from pulling as much effort as possible to reach a fast solution to the case,” Mansour wrote in the letter, which circulated on Twitter.
Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian, and two other Al Jazeera journalists, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, were placed on trial Feb. 20 on charges of aiding members of a “terrorist” organization after being detained since Dec. 29, Reuters reported.
A prosecutor said the journalists had published lies that threatened national security and had supplied money, equipment and information to 16 Egyptians. They were also accused of using unlicensed broadcasting equipment and publishing false news.
The 16 Egyptians are also to face trial for belonging to a “terrorist” organization, an apparent reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been protesting against the government since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July.
Earlier this week, Mansour sent a letter to the family of Greste, saying he would “spare no effort” in pushing for a solution in their son’s case.
Fahmy’s brother told the Canadian CBC News website that Fahmy was taken to a hospital this weekend for an MRI on a shoulder he fractured before his arrest, which has worsened in prison.
Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed are among 20 detainees facing charges of supporting a “terrorist” organization and publishing false news that threatens “national security,” Al Masry Al Youm reported. Their next trial session is Monday.
At least 60 journalists have been detained since July, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Egypt was the third deadliest country for journalists in 2013, according to the CPJ.
CPJ condemned on March 17 a one-year prison sentence given to Samah Ibrahim, a reporter for the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper. Ibrahim is one of at least 10 journalists imprisoned in the country, according to news reports and CPJ research.
“If Mansour is willing to act, as he is a judge before being a president, he must establish an independent committee to speedily conclude those cases,” journalist Karim al-Beheiry told The Cairo Post on Sunday.
Beheiry was arrested on Jan. 25 during this year’s anniversary of the revolution and was charged with violating the protest law, holding weapons and explosives and joining a “terrorist” group. Beheiry was released earlier this month.