CAIRO: Australian Journalist Peter Greste plans to seek a pardon from President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, he told The Cairo Post.
The three-year prison term issued against him in absentia and his two colleagues was “unexpected since everyone monitoring our case has come to a conclusion that there is no evidence against us,” Greste, who was deported to Australia earlier this year, told The Cairo Post via Skype.
“The only conclusion now is that [the case] is politically oriented,” said Greste.
“I cannot understand how judge could possibly issue the verdict, especially after the technical committee said there were no fabrications in our reports, and the prosecution has shown nothing of our work that was fabricated,” Greste added.
In reiteration to the decision of Egypt’s high appeal to abolish their verdict, he said there is no evidence against them, “our work is available on Youtube, you can look it up; evidence is there.”
He also said he would seek all possible ways including an appeal “If I am allowed the chance to.”
Before the court announced the verdict, Judge Hassan Farid listed reasons why he is sentencing them to prison. He said that the “defendants are not journalists and not registered, used unlicensed equipments, broadcasted false news and were working from the Mariott Hotel, which is not a registered media facility.”
Greste described the charges as “falsified,” and said that the license issue “is not our responsibilities as individual journalists, but the media company.”
Per the verdict, Greste said he cannot travel to Egypt or any other country of fears he might get arrested and extradited.
In February, Greste was deported to his home country Australia per an extradition law issued by Sisi.
“I was deported on order by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi not running away, and I had not the opportunity to defend myself. I want President Sisi and Egypt to consider that I need to defend myself,” said Greste.
Greste also expressed his sadness on his colleague’s fate after the verdict saying “I am really upset that these innocent men will be in prison,” adding “but we will keep fighting.”
Before the verdict was announced, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy attending with his lawyer Amal Clooney said that his counsel would seek a presidential pardon if they were found guilty.
“If pardon is not immediately available, we will be seeking deportation to Canada,” Clooney said outside the court. She also commented that the ruling “sends a message that journalists can be locked up for doing their job and telling the truth.”
In its ruling today, the court sentenced Baher Mohamed to three years plus an extra six months and a 5,000 EGP fine, without mentioning the reason. In the first ruling in 2014, Mohamed also got extra three years for possession of weapons.
At court, two contradictory scenes were spotted, where families of journalists were in deep shock and grief, while on the other side, the family of the acquitted Khaled Abdel Rahman, was hugging and celebrating.
The case has been running in retrial since February; during its sessions, lawyers extensively spotted arguments detailing “shallow evidences” drawn against the journalists by the prosecution.