Al-Jazeera Journalists On Trial

Kianna Haskin, Editor Student Editor-in-chief

“The three journalists, who worked for the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera’s English-language channel, were arrested in December 2013 and accused of being part of a terrorist group and airing falsified footage intended to damage Egyptian national security,” BBC News.

A year ago three Al-Jazeera journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison, though recently they were released on bail, after a year behind bars, now await their retrial.

When on trial, Al-Jazeera and the journalists denied the accusations, saying they were simply reporting the news. The journalists were convicted by a lower court on charges of terrorism.

Amal Clooney, lawyer for the convicted Al-Jazeera journalists, stated, “there is no guarantee that the case will be closed or that the journalists will be acquitted.” Clooney is fighting for Mohamed Fahmy, one of the three Al-Jazeera journalists convicted in Egypt, to be deported back to Canada, as some of his colleagues were. The fate of Baher Mohamed is on uncertain ground, because he is a citizen of Egypt.

Mohamed was sentenced to ten years in prison while Fahmy was sentenced to seven. The retrial is being called for using “flawed evidence.” During the beginning of the retrial the judge issued the release of the journalists. Fahmy was released and returned to his family; he had to pay $33,000 for bail.

A new member of the Mohamed family was born while he was in jail. Facebook photos were posted with the infant wearing clothes with the words “Free Press” printed on them. Mohamed was released and able to go home without bail. “I will continue fighting for the freedom of expression, and I will not back off,” he said in a video.

Even though Fahmy and Mohamed were released they must meet with the police everyday.

Since Egypt’s coup d’etat, the government is run by a military oligarchy which is suspicious of Mohamed Morsi supporters. Mohamed Morsi was the fifth President of Egypt and the first Democratic President.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s new leader, acknowledges, “That the heavy sentences had a ‘very negative’ impact on Egypt’s reputation and that he wished they had never been put on trial.”

Not only were the three journalists released, eleven of the defendants in the case were released without bail too. All eleven were originally accused of being members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party run by Morsi.

“@SP_Dom@RenaNetjes Miss You both! Those smiles seriously put on my face! 10 year sentence-going once-going twice! Sold! #FreeMarriottCell,” Tweeted by Mohamed on his twitter account @MFFahmy11