Egypt postpones verdict for Al Jazeera retrial

Published July 30th, 2015 - 08:49 GMT

An Egyptian criminal court postponed its ruling on three journalists who worked for the Qatari news network Al Jazeera and are accused of spreading false news on Thursday to August 2.

The case was postponed as the judge presiding over the trial has fallen sick, judicial sources said.

Canadian national Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian national Baher Mohamed and Australian national Peter Greste are being retried for defaming Egypt and spreading false news, after the Cassation Court dropped their seven to 10 years in prison sentences in January.

The Qatari network's spokesman expressed Al Jazeera's "extreme anger" due to the postponement of the verdict, in a statement posted on the network's twitter account.

"We, along with others, expected a swift end to the ordeal for our collegues," the spokesperson said.

The three journalists were arrested from the Marriott Hotel in Cairo's posh island of Zamalek in December 2013 and initially sentenced to prison in June 2014. They spent no less than 400 days in prison before their release in February 2015 on different days and under different conditions.

Greste was the first of the trio to be granted his freedom. 

He was released on February 1 after spending 400 days behind bars. He was immediately deported as per a presidential decree, which allows the deportation of foreign defendants and convicts "whenever the [state's] supreme interest necessitate so."

The Australian journalist did not attend Thursday's session; he has been out of the country since his deportation.

Greste told Aswat Masriya in an interview earlier this week he respected the judicial process and expects the court's upcoming decision to demonstrate "that it is both fair and just."   

"It is hard to see how the court could come to any conclusion other than 'Not Guilty' for all involved," Greste said.

In the hopes of benefiting from the same decree which saw Greste released, Fahmy, who held a dual Egyptian-Canadian citizenship prior to the trial, revoked his Egyptian citizenship in February.

Yet, giving up his nationality did not speed up his release and both he and Mohamed were released as per a court order on the same day, February 12.

While all three journalists were found guilty of defaming Egypt and spreading false news, Mohamed was sentenced to three more years for arms possession, a spent bullet casing.


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