1 Jan 2015

Retrial for Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt

Three journalists, including one Australian, will face a retrial after serving one year of a sentence under controversial charges. The families of the men say there is still “a long road ahead”.

Egypt’s top court accepted the appeal, the defence lawyer has said, after prosecutors acknowledged that there were major problems with the verdict.

The men, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, have now been in jail for 369 days. They have been denied bail despite the initial sentence being cancelled.

Read more: keeping jailed journalists in the public eye with gaffer tape

The three journalists were accused and then convicted of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, an outlawed religious and social movement.

Greste’s brothers Mike and Andrew told Al Jazeera that they were disappointed with the court’s decision: “We have learned in the past that this is not over until he is out and it looks like we have a long road ahead of us.”

The case has led to serious questions being asked about the credential of Egypt’s democracy and political institutions.

But in recent weeks speculation has continued to grow that the men might be pardoned or deported.

A tough bugger

Mike Greste, whose brother Peter – an Al Jazeera journalist – was jailed in Egypt a year ago, last week told Channel 4 News that his brother’s imprisonment has been tough “but he’s a tough bugger”, as expectations grew of his release.

A spokesperson for Al Jazeera today said: “The Egyptian authorities have a simple choice – free these men quickly, or continue to string this out, all the while continuing this injustice and harming the image of their own country in the eyes of the world. They should choose the former.”

Adel Fahmy, the brother of Mohammed Fahmy, told Al Jazeera that he had “hoped for more” and that his brother would have been freed.

The judge’s reasoning for sentencing the journalists was that they were brought together “by the devil” in order to destabilise the country.