Ironic Twist in AJ Trial
Detained Al-Jazeera journalists were wished a happy World Press Freedom Day by the judge presiding over their trial, before the case was once again adjourned.
Adding even more insult to injury, the judge trying the three imprisoned Al-Jazeera journalists in Egypt wished them a happy World Press Freedom Day, right before deciding to refuse bail once again and adjourning the trial until May 15th. The trio were in court for a brief session on Saturday. For the first time since the trial began, al-Jazeera English's Cairo bureau chief, Mohamed Fahmy, was allowed to leave the defendant's cage, and given the opportunity to explain the nature of journalism. "I have great relations with state security, with the army and the intelligence," said Fahmy. "That's normal, that's journalism, that's my job." Encouraged by the opportunity to explain themselves, Fahmy told journalists: "I feel like the court is starting to understand what we do for a living."
Unfortunately, the trial was adjourned because Fahmy's lawyer failed to make the hearing due to a private emergency, which is sadly not out of the ordinary as far as Egyptian work habits are concerned. The seventh session of the trio's trial ironically fell on World Press Freedom Day, a global day honouring the rights of journalists. Coincidentally, just before the trial, Mohamed Fahmy was awarded a press freedom award by the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom.
As it stands it seems that global attention is focused on the trio from Al-Jazeera English, which is somewhat of a double-edged sword. On one hand, their popularity provides them with the best opportunity for creating precedence in Egypt to free journalists, but at the same time, focusing all global attention on their case leaves many in the same situation with little to no attention. In the case of Abdullah Elshamy, an Al-Jazeera Arabic journalist, it has been tougher to draw the same attention as his English-speaking counterparts. In order to be noticed, Abdullah Elshamy has been on hunger strike for over a 100 days and has seen his weight drop 108kg to 74kg.
Elshamy began his hunger strike by permitting himself only water, milk, juice without sugar, and two dates per day. After 14 days, he stopped taking dates. By the end of February, at around 38 days, he cut out milk. Since 16 March 2014, he has solely been consuming water. ElShamy still remains uncharged and also appeared, separate to his Al-Jazeera English counterparts, in court on Saturday, where once again the trial was postponed to a later date.