By Staff writer
The Lebanese human rights lawyer says there is no guarantee of retrial for three reporters held in Egypt for more than a year would be any fairer than the original trial
Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has publicly called for a jailed Al Jazeera journalist to be deported from Egypt rather than face a retrial, which she fears would be as unjust as the original trial.
In a letter published in the US’ Huffington Post, Clooney, who recently married Hollywood actor George Clooney, said no evidence had been produced to prove the charges against Mohamed Fahmy, a Cairo-based producer for Al Jazeera’s English network.
Fahmy, who has both Egyptian and Canadian citizenship, was convicted in July of reporting false news and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
“These allegations are not true and were not backed by any evidence at trial,” Clooney, who is leading the international case to free Fahmy and his colleagues Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, wrote in her letter to the newspaper, which was co-signed by her partner Mark Wassouf.
“Mr. Fahmy has never supported the Brotherhood. There was no evidence presented at trial that showed that he ever fabricated a report or knowingly made a false statement.
“He is serving a draconian sentence for simply reporting the news.”
Clooney has asked President Sisi to pardon the three journalists and is negotiating with authorities to have Fahmy deported to Canada.
She says the granting of a retrial in itself proves there were legal errors in the original trial, overseen by controversial judge Mohamed Nagy Shehata, who became infamous last year for sentencing 188 people to death in a mass trial.
“The charges themselves are a violation of the right to free expression under Egyptian and international law,” Clooney claimed.
“There are no guarantees that a new panel of judges would respect due process or demand cogent evidence before concluding that a crime was committed.”
She also called for Fahmy’s release on health grounds. Fahmy has been in jail for more than a year and has Hepatitis C, which Clooney said was not being properly treated in jail.
In the letter, Clooney also clarified a report in The Guardian that stated she had claimed she was threatened with arrest by Egyptian authorities if she visited Cairo.
Clooney said the arrest threat was made in early 2014, before she became involved in the Al Jazeera case, and related to a report her firm was planning to launch in Cairo that criticised the country’s judicial system.