Greste offers to testify to Egypt court via video

Journalist Peter Greste has offered to provide evidence via videolink following an Egpytian judge confirming he was being tried in absentia.

The announcement:

Journalist Peter Greste has responded to news that he is being tried in absentia in Egypt by offering to provide evidence via videolink.

Despite being released under presidential decree in February this year after 400 days in jail, Greste’s name continued to be called at the ongoing retrial of fellow Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy. At a recent hearing, the judge confirmed that Greste was being tried in absentia.

Writing today in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian, Greste says about the ongoing ordeal: “In the euphoria and sense of relief that followed my release, one
important fact seems to have been lost: that all three of us are still on trial on non-existent evidence, and that I am in danger of being convicted once again for the same baseless charges, though this time thanks to a quirk of the Egyptian legal system.

“At the last hearing on May 9, the judge ordered me to appear before the court or be considered on trial in absentia. Under Egyptian rules, anyone who is not present for their trial is automatically convicted, regardless of the outcome for anyone else in the case. There is a real danger that I will have to carry a terrorism conviction that nobody but the prosecutor seems to think is valid.

“To be clear, I am not on the run. I am out of Egypt and unable to attend the trial because the president ordered me out.

“That’s why I am offering to give evidence by video link. My lawyer is working to formally ask the court to let me appear under oath from Australia.

“This is unusual – perhaps unprecedented in the Egyptian courts – but our case is also unusual. Nobody has ever been deported while their trial is ongoing. But if the first principle of a judicial system is to get to the truth, then it makes sense to do everything possible to set the record straight. I have nothing to hide, and so if it helps
the judge understand that we were doing nothing more sinister than working as a team of professional journalists, I am prepared to go through a cross-examination.”

Source: Howorth Communications media release


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