Alaa Bayoumi, one of six Al Jazeera staff who were sentenced to ten years in absentia by an Egyptian court last summer, has publicly spoken of his ordeal for the first time.
Bayoumi and five other colleagues, including British journalists Dominic Kane and Sue Turton, were sentenced alongside Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, who were wrongly accused of spreading false news and inciting terrorism.
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“I have never joined, financed, or supported the Muslim Brotherhood or any other group in Egypt,” Bayoumi said on Wednesday.
“I have been living outside of the country for the last 18 years, and I hardly visit.”
Bayoumi said he decided to break his silence because of no real resolution and no options to clear his name.
“For the last 17 months I have chosen to remain silent. As a journalist I am much more used to speaking about the suffering of others than about my own. I feel deep in my heart that I should not be the story.” Bayoumi said.
“I also felt that my jailed colleagues were the priority and should have received all the attention until they were safe and free. However, now it is time to speak up.”
Despite an ongoing retrial taking place with a defence summation due on June 4, Bayoumi and his six colleagues are still not guaranteed an acquittal as they are expected to stand trial in Egypt.
The retrial is taking place after Greste was deported to Australia and Mohamed and Fahmy were released on bail.
“I hope that Mohamed and Baher will be set free soon and that the world will not forget that six more Al Jazeera journalists, including myself, continue to carry unjust 10-year sentences,” Bayoumi said.