Al-Jazeera reporter held in Egypt stays hopeful

Detained Al-Jazeera reporter in Egypt says colleague's release means he too could be freed

Associated Press
Al-Jazeera reporter held in Egypt stays hopeful

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FILE - In this Thursday, May 15, 2014 file photo, from left, Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, Australian correspondent Peter Greste, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed appear in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo. Egypt’s state news agency says the trial of three Al-Jazeera English journalists and 17 others has adjourned until next week when the judge will deliver the verdict, five months after the trial opened. Fahmy, Greste and Baher have been in detention since December 29. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam, File)

CAIRO (AP) -- A Canadian-Egyptian journalist for Al-Jazeera imprisoned in Egypt said Tuesday is hopeful that the imminent release of another reporter for the Qatar-based network on medical grounds means he too will be freed.

Mohammed Fahmy spoke from a private hospital where he had a medical checkup on his shoulder, an injury that's worsened during his six-month imprisonment.

"We are very confident we are going to be next," said Fahmy as he stepped out of the prison car, handcuffed to a policeman. "We have rebuffed everything that they brought against us" during the trial.

Fahmy and two other Al-Jazeera English journalists are on trial for terrorism-related charges, the first such case against reporters in Egypt. The verdict in the trial that began in February is expected Monday.

Fahmy, a former producer for CNN and contributor to other Western media outlets, is accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, a charge he dismisses as baseless. The defendants also include Australian-award winning journalist Peter Greste and Baher Mohammed, another Egyptian reporter for the station.

They are charged with providing a platform for the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted from office last year following protests against him. The three have been imprisoned since Dec. 29.

Six other Al-Jazeera staffers, including two Britons, are being tried in absentia. The case has caused an outcry among journalists and rights groups, who say their prosecution was politicized and undermines freedom of expression in Egypt.

The prosecution was a reflection of the tension between Egyptian authorities and the network. The Egyptian government accuses Al-Jazeera of being biased toward Islamists. The network denies the allegations against it and its detained staffers.

Separately, Egyptian authorities are detaining Abdullah Elshamy, an Al-Jazeera Arabic service reporter. He's been held since August without charges when he was swept with other protesters following the violent dispersal of a pro-Morsi sit-in that left hundreds dead.

On Sunday, Egypt's top prosecutor ordered the release of Elshamy, 26, who started a hunger strike over 100 days ago to protest his detention.

Fahmy appeared upbeat in the hospital, hoping that the imminent release of Elshamy was a sign they too may be released. He said he considered the case a "misunderstanding," and wished authorities won't let the case continue to harm Egypt's name.

Fahmy has been the most outspoken against the charges during his trial. He has submitted letters to the court from such some prominent figures in Egypt, such as former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who oversaw the committee that drafted Egypt's current constitution.

Moussa wrote that Fahmy was "known as competent, has integrity and is objective."

Fahmy has complained that medical negligence caused his shoulder not to heal. Authorities finally allowed him to seek private medical care while in custody. On Tuesday, a new report showed that he would need surgery to fix a fractured bone.

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