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Egypt: Call for Al-Jazeera journalists to be acquitted at retrial

Adel, the brother of Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, one of the imprisoned journalists, speaks to the media in front of a court in Cairo, 1 January 2015
Adel, the brother of Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, one of the imprisoned journalists, speaks to the media in front of a court in Cairo, 1 January 2015

REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 1 January 2015.

Egypt's highest appeal court, the Court of Cassation, today [1 January 2015] ordered a retrial for three Al-Jazeera journalists who have been held for the past year, but it did not order their release.

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed now face a new judicial ordeal after a year marked by a climate of extreme hostility towards freedom of information in Egypt.

Last June, they were given sentences ranging from seven to ten years in prison on charges of disseminating false news and belonging to a "terrorist organization."

"We urge the judicial authorities to dismiss all the charges and acquit the Al-Jazeera journalists at the new trial," Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said.

"They are not guilty on any of the charges and, in reality, are paying the price of the regime's persecution of media with real or imagined links to the Muslim Brotherhood. We also call on the authorities to ensure that the new trial is conducted fairly, not a sham trial as the last one was. And the journalists must be released without delay."

International support for the Qatari TV station's journalists has grown steadily in recent months. On 29 December 2014, the first anniversary of their arrests, demonstrations to demand their immediate release were held outside the Egyptian embassies in London and The Hague.

Reporters Without Borders, which accused the Egyptian authorities of violating the new constitution in an online petition for their release that it launched in July, will continue to follow their case closely.

RWB also calls for the release of the 13 other journalists detained in Egypt, which is now the world's fourth biggest prison for media personnel, after China, Eritrea and Iran.

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What other IFEX members are saying
  • #FreeAJStaff: Retrial ordered, expected to begin within a month

    [Fahmy's defence lawyers] expressed their lack of confidence in the potential fairness of a retrial, since it would take place within the same deeply flawed Egyptian judicial framework as the previous trial.



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