A Canadian journalist who was handed a seven-year prison sentence in Egypt last month says he doesn’t know if he will join two imprisoned colleagues in appealing the decision.
Mohamed Fahmy, Al Jazeera’s English-language bureau chief in Cairo, said through his brother Adel on Friday that he is still trying to determine whether an appeal is his best option.
“He doesn’t have much confidence in what can come out of the appeals process, so that is why he is still undecided,” Adel Fahmy said in a telephone interview.
The imprisoned journalists have until Aug. 23 – two months from the date of their conviction – to make their intentions known to the court.
The family of Australian reporter Peter Greste said Friday that Mr. Greste will appeal.
A Cairo court convicted Mr. Fahmy, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed and Australian reporter Peter Greste on terrorism-related charges after prosecutors said they conspired with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood of former president Mohammed Morsi to broadcast false news. The men say they were just doing their jobs as journalists.
The family of Australian reporter Peter Greste said Friday that Mr. Greste will appeal. A Cairo court convicted Mr. Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed of conspiring with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood of former president Mohammed Morsi to broadcast false news. The men say they were just doing their jobs as journalists.
“Today we wish to announce we intend to appeal the verdict through the formal channels offered by the Egyptian legal system,” Mr. Greste’s younger brother, Mike Greste, told reporters in Brisbane.
Mr. Mohamed was also reported as being ready to appeal.
Peter Greste said in a statement that he is heartened by international calls for the release of the Al Jazeera trio.
“At least part of our strength comes from the understanding that this isn’t just about those wrongly convicted in our case. This is about press freedom, about freedom of speech, not just in Egypt, but globally,” Mr. Greste wrote. “If the authorities in Egypt can ride out the storm then others can too. Gratifyingly the world seems to be behind us.”
Mr. Greste and Mr. Fahmy, who holds both Egyptian and Canadian citizenship, were sentenced to seven years in prison. Mr. Mohamed was given a 10-year sentence for possessing a bullet he had collected as a battlefield souvenir from Libya. The trial was decried by human rights groups as a farce.
This week, the judge who convicted the journalists released a 57-page explanation of his ruling. He said they broadcast their material through a television station that works “in the service of a banned terrorist organization,” a reference to the now-banned Brotherhood. He also said they turned the profession of journalism from one “that seeks the truth to one that falsifies the truth,” and “were brought together by the devil to abuse this profession and turn it into acts against the nation.”
The three journalists were arrested on Dec. 29. Mohamed Fahmy Famhy, who came to Canada with his family about 20 years ago, fractured his shoulder just before he was taken into custody and is now in hospital waiting for it to be repaired.
“There are some complications and they are doing more tests and more scans,” said Adel Fahmy. “Right now they are doing some physiotherapy to strengthen his arm a bit more before subjecting it to the surgery.”
That means he has been separated from Mr. Greste and Mr. Mohamed, who are serving their sentences in Egypt’s Tora Farm Prison where many of the members of the former government of ousted president Hosni Mubarak are also being held.
“He already misses Peter and Baher,” Adel Fahmy said of his brother. “The camaraderie is very strong.”