Egypt court adjourns trial of Al Jazeera journalists
Retrial of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed postponed until April 22 after pair was freed on bail in February.
A court in Cairo has adjourned the retrial of Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed until April 22.
Fahmy and Mohamed were jailed on charges of aiding a “terrorist organisation” and were freed on bail on February 12 after more than 400 days, but the court said the case against them was still pending.
The pair appeared in court on Wednesday morning, after earlier sessions on March 8 and March 19 were also adjourned.
The previous court had ordered a three member technical committee to review ‘incriminating’ evidence and videos. The committee had come to the conclusion that the videos were harmful to national security.
After questioning the previous committee members, presiding Judge Hassan Farid asked to form a new technical committee to review evidence and videos.
Egyptian Mohamed and Canadian Fahmy, along with Australian Peter Greste were sentenced last year to between seven and 10 years in jail on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organisation – a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Greste was freed on February 1 and deported after 400 days in a Cairo prison.
Last Thursday’s hearing also directed questions to the lead investigating police officer, but after claiming to not remember most events the judge asked him to step down from the witness stand.
“Today the lead investigator, who is the reason why we are wrongly in this cage, has again failed to respond to questions that are very critical to this case. What are the criteria of being a Muslim Brotherhood? Why did he decide that I am a Muslim Brotherhood? On what basis? And more important than that, why did he even arrest us? The man has no answers,” said Fahmy.
Mohamed believes that the court was a success after technical committee members failed to answer vital questions directed towards them.
“So today I think it was a success they all said that they were not responsible and they did not write the statements. So then who wrote those statements against us. This is a very big question mark for us. Who wrote those typical copy paste statements. This is really important to us. How can somebody say that we published or we broadcasted materials against national security. But then the members are now saying that they didn’t say that,” said Mohamed.
The new committee will attempt to prove that Jazeera broadcasted incorrect news to negatively affect national security.
Egyptian authorities accuse Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece of the Brotherhood – the movement the army removed from power in 2013. Al Jazeera denies the allegations.
The journalists were detained in December 2013. They say they were doing their jobs.
Their imprisonment reinforced the view of human rights groups that the government was rolling back freedoms gained after the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Mohamed was given an extra three years for possessing a single spent bullet.