Thursday, all eyes were on Egypt for the eighth court session in the trial of six Al Jazeera journalists accused of aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and defaming the country.
The Cairo Criminal Court adjourned the trial to May 22. During the brief session, jailed journalist Peter Greste watched from the defendants’ cage as his lawyer surprisingly quit and left the courtroom.
Farag Fathy, the lead defense lawyer representing Greste, claimed that Al Jazeera was using the case to “defame” Egypt, rather than focusing on helping free the journalists. According to France Presse, Fathy then announced that he and two other lawyers working on the case were quitting. "Al-Jazeera is using my clients,” Fathy said. “I have emails from (the channel) telling me they don't care about the defendants and care about insulting Egypt.”
Al Jazeera tweeted a picture of the three defendants -- Egyptians Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, and Australian Greste -- and said that prosecutors wanted to charge a hefty sum in order to show the defense video evidence:
— America Tonight (@AmericaTonight) May 15, 2014
Last month, the Qatari-owned channel announced that it would sue the Egyptian government for $150 million in damages caused by the authorities' crackdown on the network. Fathy claimed he warned them not to do this as it would only further endanger the journalists’ situation.
Greste is being held alongside Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. The three were arrested in December, accused of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood and “airing false news.” Since then, the trial has sparked international outrage.
“What I understand from their [the channel] approach is they don’t care if their employees, or staff, are acquitted but they want to continue with this lawsuit so Egypt looks bad internationally,” Fathy said. Media reports state that he stormed out of the courtroom shortly after.
The journalists have been imprisoned for 138 days now. Three other colleagues have fled Egypt.