NEWS

9 Ludicrous Pieces Of Evidence Used In Egypt To Jail Al Jazeera Journalists, From Gotye To Sheep Farming

23/06/2014 12:54 | Updated 23 June 2014

It would be funny if it wasn't so utterly tragic.

Prosecutors in Egypt used bizarre clips from pop videos, a journalist's holiday photos and documentaries about Somalia and Kenya (not Egypt) to prove that the three Al Jazeera journalists had disseminated false information and consorted with the Muslim Brotherhood - now a banned terror organisation.

Australian journalist and former BBC correspondent Peter Greste, along with Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed, were given the maximum sentence available to the judge of seven years. Mohamed had a extra three years for carrying "ammunition", a shell casing he had picked up at a protest.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, described the sentencing as "outrageous".

"The NUJ condemns in the strongest terms these sentences meted on journalists who were merely doing their job," said Stanistreet. "This is an outrageous decision and travesty of justice made by a kangaroo court.

An Amnesty trial observer recorded examples of complete ineptitude during the proceedings, as well as several clear irregularities. In 12 court sessions, the prosecution failed to produce a single shred of solid evidence linking the journalists to a terrorism organisation or proving that they had “falsified” news footage.

Key witnesses for the prosecution also appeared to contradict their own written testimony, with technical experts admitting on cross-examination that they were unable to confirm their testimonies, the human rights watchdog said.

Here are 9 pieces of eyebrow-raising evidence that were mentioned at the trial.

  • 1 Gotye
  • The Gotye song Somebody That I Used To Know was presented to the court, according to Guardian reporter Patrick Kingsley, with no explanation given. An engineer, who helped prepare the evidence and signed a document saying it was incriminating, told the court he had not analysed it and couldn't say whether it pointed to the journalists' guilt.
  • 2 Peter Greste's holiday snaps
    Getty Images
  • According to the Australian, members of the court could barely stifle giggles when pictures of former BBC journalist Peter Greste's laptop was analysed in court. Pictures of his parents on holiday in Latvia and Germany were shown to the court, without any comment on why they formed evidence against Greste.
  • 3 A Panorama documentary about Somalia
    Getty Images
  • The court was shown a report on Somalia Greste had done for the BBC’s Panorama program — for which he had won a Peabody Award. “It shows there is not a single shred of evidence against us,” Greste said at the time. “But I’m also very proud — I won a Peabody for that. “I wish they had shown more of that programme because it shows the sort of journalism we do rather than the sort of journalism we are alleged to have done.”
  • 4 A Kenyan news conference
    Getty Images
  • The short video was shown to the court from Greste's laptop on April 11. His lawyer told the judge: “Your Honour, it has taken several sessions of this court to reach a point where we are watching videos from Kenya and Somalia which have nothing to do with Egypt.”
  • 5 A doctored picture of Mohamad Fahmy
    Getty Images
  • Al Jazeera quoted reporters in the room as saying the picture of Fahmy standing behind former Egyptian military chief Mohamed Hussein Tantawihad been "clearly doctored". “But, doctored or not doctored,” his brother Adel Fahmy told the Globe and Mail, “there’s nothing wrong with it because it was taken prior to the Muslim Brotherhood regime.”
  • 6 Footage of sheep
    Getty Images
  • Footage of sheep farming was submitted as part of the video evidence, according to the Globe and Mail. No further comment was made.
  • 7 A clip from Sky News Arabic
  • None of the journalists have ever worked there and had nothing to do with the clip that was shown, according to the Australian.
  • 8 A documentary about horses in Egypt
    AP
  • None of the journalists ever worked on the documentary in question.
  • 9 A documentary about football in Egypt
    Getty Images
  • Greste did work on this documentary for Al Jazeera, but he said he showed exactly the opposite of what the prosecution were trying to prove. "We're accused of showing that the country is at war. This story shows the opposite. It's a story that shows we have no agenda,' he shouted at the judge when the clip was shown on May 22.
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