Fahmy defends himself, hits out at Al-Jazeera in court

CAIRO: Canadian Journalist Mohamed Fahmy defended himself Thursday at court in a closing argument, in which he denied responsibility for invalid licenses of his former employer Al-Jazeera network, one of the charges drawn against him and his colleagues.

Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and their deported Australian colleague Peter Greste are facing charges of broadcasting false news to “disrupt national security,” belonging to a banned group and operating in Egypt without proper licenses.

Speaking to the journalists, Fahmy said the judge is focusing on the press passes and licenses; Fahmy said that there are no grounds for the fabrication charge, citing footages proved “unedited” and possibly “not aired.”

Addressing the judge, Fahmy said “I have contacted the network asking about the licenses, they answered that broadcast is legal,” quoting an e-mail sent received from the network.

Fahmy continued “I officially criticized the Al-Jazeera [network] in many foreign channels after my release […] I have filed a lawsuit [against the network] from Canada because it deceived us.”

He added that he received threats to his personal security after his hit at the channel.

Before Fahmy’s own defense, his lawyer Khaled Abu Bakr took the floor where he listed 11 arguments, upon which he demanded the acquittal of his client.

‘Unserious investigations’

Bakr argued that the prosecution’s arrest decision was “invalid and based on unserious pre-detention investigations.”

The investigations, according to Bakr, included prejudgments that “all the accused committed crimes that affect national security […] without giving any details about these crimes.”

Bakr said the charge of publishing false news was not among the crimes listed when the journalists were first referred to court. “The prosecution did not check whether the seized footages were aired; broadcast is a must to prove the crime occurred,” he added.

MUslim Brotherhood-affiliation charge

Bakr said that the decision to refer journalists to court was issued four months before the Muslim Brotherhood group was designated a “terrorist organization” in December 2013.

In his defense, Bakr denied that his client has any affiliations with the Brotherhood group, citing Business Tycoon Naguib Sawiris’s testimonies that “Fahmy cannot be [a member of the] Brotherhood.”

Referring to a picture of Fahmy with Al-Qaeda leader in Egypt Mohamed el-Zawahiri, Bakr said that “journalists’ job is to meet with everyone,” and that has nothing to do with political affiliations.

He also referred to Fahmy’s statements during interrogations saying he is against the Brotherhood and ex-President Mohamed Morsi.

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