By Alexandra Zakreski
During yesterday’s hearing in the retrial of Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste (in absentia) and Baher Mohamed, the judge announced that he will deliver his final verdict in the case on July 30. The three journalists are part of a group of nine individuals, which includes four students, charged with operating without proper accreditation, producing false news to destabilize national security and aiding the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
The session was fairly short, with one of the students, Sohaib Saad, being permitted to address the judge after he was not brought to the courtroom last week. Saad, previously free on bail in this case, spoke of how he had been arrested and blindfolded with two other individuals and held without charge or explanation for 12 days. At the last hearing it was revealed that Saad’s parents had previously reported him missing following his alleged abduction; he was later found at Tora prison complex.
Also yesterday, Egypt’s public prosecutor Hisham Barakat was killed in a bombing on his motorcade in Cairo; three policemen were also killed and Egyptian authorities have pinned responsibility for the attack on the Muslim Brotherhood. In a statement following Barakat’s death, the Egyptian foreign ministry tied the attack to a broader pattern of Islamic extremism around the world and called on international leaders to “face up to a serious terrorist threat facing the world.” Some have interpreted this comment as a reference to western governments’ criticism of Egypt’s abysmal human rights record, which the country’s administration has justified under the guise of national security.
Following the attack, Fahmy tweeted his concern that this latest violence could have an impact on the verdict in his case:
Failed assassination attempt on chief prosecutor Barakat will have huge repercussions on future of our case- More bad luck! #AJretrial
— Mohamed Fadel Fahmy (@MFFahmy11) June 29, 2015
In advance of the July 30th verdict, CJFE calls on Egyptian authorities to acquit Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, three journalists who are only guilty of doing their jobs and attempting to report in a fluid, tense environment. CJFE also continues to urge the government to release all prisoners of conscience in the country.