Footage of sheep and the international hit song of an Australian musician were included in the most recent evidence presented by Egyptian prosecutors in their case against a Canadian journalist and two of his colleagues.
Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were in court for a ninth time on Thursday on charges of conspiring to tarnish Egypt’s reputation and of aiding the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Fahmy, the English-language bureau chief in Cairo for the Al Jazeera television network, holds both Egyptian and Canadian citizenship. He has been in prison with the other two Al Jazeera staff members since their arrest at a Cairo hotel on Dec. 29.
As promised, the prosecution showed the video evidence it has compiled against the three men that it refused to turn over to the defence last week without receiving a payment of approximately $180,000 CAD. Because the demand was rejected, neither the defendants nor their lawyers had seen the material before it was presented in court.
The prosecutors ran many hours of videos that they said were taken from the equipment confiscated from the Al Jazeera team at the time of the arrests.
“They hand-picked only one side of the story,” Mr. Fahmy’s brother, Adel Fahmy, said in a telephone interview from Cairo after the Thursday hearing ended.
The clips that were displayed to the judge, he said, were selected to include interviews with people who support the Muslim Brotherhood and footage of protests against former army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the front-runner in next week’s presidential election. But prosecutors left out interviews that the Al Jazeera team had conducted with people who are supportive of the existing regime, said Adel Fahmy.
Much of the evidence presented was “ridiculous,” said Adel Fahmy.
It included, without explanation, a grainy recording of the hit song Somebody That I Used to Know by the Australian musician Gotye, as well as audioclips of people telling jokes, videos of sheep, footage from other correspondents, and a documentary about football in Egypt that Mr. Greste told the judge demonstrates the journalists’ willingness to portray the country as being stable under the current military rulers.
The judge was also shown a photograph of Mohamed Fahmy standing behind former Egyptian military chief Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. Al Jazeera quoted reporters in the room as saying the picture had been doctored.
“But, doctored or not doctored,” said Adel Fahmy, “there’s nothing wrong with it because it was taken prior to the Muslim Brotherhood regime ...”
The prosecutors are blending the case against the journalists with the cases of actual members of the Muslim Brotherhood, said Adel Fahmy. The defence lawyer, he said, had to explain the distinction between the balanced work of journalists and the actions of those who those have physically opposed the government.
The case was adjourned to June 1.
Mohamed Fahmy, who faces 15 years in prison, previously worked for CNN and the BBC. He moved to Canada with his family 20 years ago. His parents, who live in Montreal, have travelled to Cairo for the hearing where they have been joined by their other two sons.
The imprisonment has sparked an international campaign for press freedom in the country that has been under military rule since the government of former president Mohammed Morsi was overthrown last July. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders demanded the release of the journalists.