CAIRO: Jihan Rashed, wife of journalist Baher Mohamed, is currently living in hope that a challenge against her husband’s verdict will be accepted so that she can see him again, she said in a Monday interview with The Cairo Post.
Mohamed, one of three Al-Jazeera reporters charged with spreading false news, working without license and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood group, was sentenced Aug. 29 to three years and six months in prison.
When Mohamed left home to attend the verdict hearing, he kissed his three children and promised them he would return. “I was shocked to hear the verdict on TV. I never expected it coming, I was waiting for him to come back home,” Rashed said.
On the day preceding the verdict, Mohamed celebrated the first birthday of his youngest son Haroun. Mohamed missed Haroun’s birth and first six months of life during his first trial, where he spent 411 days in prison over same charges.
During his first imprisonment, Rashed used to tell her children “dad is at work;” she said this period weighed on her heavily. “I am still telling them ‘your dad is at work,’ and they are still waiting for him,” she added.
Mohamed reunited with his family in February, when he and his Canadian colleague Mohamed Fahmy were released pending retrial; their third colleague, Australian Peter Greste, was deported earlier in the same month. The trio was ordered a retrial after their first seven to 10 prison terms were abolished by Egypt’s High Appeal court due to “lack of evidence.”
In June 2014, Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years, 3 more than his colleagues due to a charge of weapons possession; he had a single bullet in his pocket at the time of his arrest. He has said he had picked up the bullet as a souvenir while covering unrest in Libya.
Under the second verdict, Mohamed was also sentenced to a term longer than his colleages: an extra six months. The court, however, has not sent the seized bullet to be examined as the cassation court recommended, Lawyer Shaaban Saeed, one of the defense team in the case, told The Cairo Post.
The court released Sunday the reasoning for the verdict. Saeed predicted that this verdict will face the same fate of the previous ruling, saying the court did not provide evidences like videos and photos to substantiate the charges of broadcasting false news.
He further added that the court’s reasoning “brought contrasting details to what was provided in the technical committee’s report,” which said that the seized footage was not fabricated and they cannot be not sure if it were broadcast.
While the case was deliberated at court, lawyers cited that the journalists, who were arrested in December 2013, were charged retroactively with joining the Brotherhood group, which was designated as ‘terrorist organization’ in April 2014.
Mohamed previously said linking him to his father’s affiliation with the Brotherhood was “annoying.”
“Neither [Mohamed] nor I belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, but I do not know how this could be proved,” Rashed said. “And for the license charge, it is an administrative one that deserves a fine, not imprisonment.”
She added that she is expecting the cassation court “will do justice to the journalists, because they were just doing their job.”
The lawyers of the trio have voiced their intentions to seek presidential pardon as a second possible way to get their clients out of jail. For Fahmy, he is also seeking a third route, which is deportation to Canada per Egypt’s extradition law.