Journalists: Egypt trial a joke
CAIRO — Egyptian prosecutors presented their first evidence on Thursday to back charges that three journalists from the Al-Jazeera satellite news network and their co-defendants participated in terrorism, playing to the court an assortment of videos found in their possession. They included news clips about an animal hospital with donkeys and horses, and another about Christian life in Egypt.
Defense lawyers — and even the judge — dismissed the videos as irrelevant, while defendants shouted from the dock that the trial was “a complete joke” and “an embarrassment to Egypt.”
The three journalists, award-winning Australian correspondent Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed, are accused of being part of a terrorist group and airing falsified footage intended to damage Egyptian national security. Egyptian authorities accuse Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera of providing a platform for the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government has branded a terrorist organization.
Al-Jazeera denies the claim, and the defendants deny being members of the Brotherhood, saying they were simply doing their job reporting on Egypt's political turmoil.
The case is part of an unprecedented crackdown on the Brotherhood since the military's ouster in July of Islamist President Mohamed Morsy, who was a veteran figure from the group. Hundreds of Morsy supporters have been killed in crackdowns on protests and more than 16,000 have been arrested. The three journalists, who work for Al-Jazeera's English-language channel, were arrested Dec. 29 when police raided a Cairo hotel room they were using as an office.
“This is a politicized trial and a politicized judge,” Fahmy shouted from the courtroom cage where defendants are traditionally held during trials. He said prosecutors had told him privately that he and his co-defendants “are paying the price” for tensions between Egypt and Qatar.
“I want to get out of this place! ... I am going to expose all of this!” he shouted. “There are crimes against humanity taking place. Nothing is right in this system.”
Besides the three journalists, 17 others are charged in the case, mostly students not connected to Al-Jazeera. Only five of the students are present for the trial, with the rest on trial in absentia.
In previous sessions, prosecutors have said they would present video from the defendants showing they intended to harm national security. The prosecution has said it will present further video evidence including Al-Jazeera coverage of the crackdown on Islamists that it claims was falsified to destabilize Egypt and fuel support of the Brotherhood by showing Egypt as thrown into “civil war.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Jordan-based bank liable in suicide bombings that killed, injured Americans
- Ebola infections likely to shoot up in Sierra Leone, Liberia
- Egyptian President al-Sisi feels vindicated in crackdown as Islamic extremists rise
- Turks, fleeing Kurds battle as Islamic State besieges town in Iraq
- Islamic State link with well-heeled companies or individuals targeted
- Yemen signs peace deal with Shiite rebels
- Hong Kong college students boycott classes in fight for democracy
- Libyan clashes could endanger oil exports
- Al-Qaida’s South Asia wing claims 1st big strike
- It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar
- Pakistan eyeing sea-based and short-range nuclear weapons, analysts say