CAIRO: The trial of two Al Jazeera journalists was suspended until March 8 Monday; the defendants are to remain released until their trial date.
The court said in Monday’s session that the hearing had to be adjourned as two security officers who were called as witnesses were not present.
When the court convened the defense counsel of journalist Mohamed Fahmy requested that Naguib Sawiris be called as a witness in the case, and also requested that Fahmy be returned his Canadian passport. The judge agreed to grant a copy of the passport, but not the original, as well as to return Baher Mohamed his Egyptian National ID.
Baher Mohamed and Fahmy, employees of Al Jazeera English, were arrested on charges of broadcasting false news Dec. 29, 2013, spent more than a year in prison; their colleague Peter Greste, a dual Australian-Latvian citizen, was deported in late January. Mohamed and Fahmy were released pending their appeal in early February.
Fahmy, who was previously a dual Egyptian-Canadian citizen, renounced his Egyptian citizenship in late December in hopes of also being deported; a presidential decree in December states that the government may deport foreign nationals to serve a sentence or face trial in their home countries if it serves the interests of Egypt.
Following news that Fahmy had renounced his Egyptian citizenship, Al Jazeera stated that they were hopeful he would be released and deported “within hours,” however he remained in jail until a hearing with his co-defendants in which they were released.
Before the trial session, Fahmy told The Cairo Post that he is currently seeking deportation, but that he hopes to re-apply for Egyptian citizenship.
Having worked for many foreign and Arabic channels, Fahmy said that he “never took sides or harmed his country.”
He also added that he was working for Al Jazeera English only and that he was against the coverage and policies of Al-Jazeera Mubasher; a branch of the Al-Jazeera that was dedicated for covering the Egyptian affairs since the January 25 Revolution in 2011, and was seen by many Egyptians as inciting violence against the country.
“I do not know why I am here,” said Fahmy. He also referred to cassation court’s recent reasoning for overturning June sentences, saying that the court said the investigations were “unserious” and that there had been “no evidence” for violence committed by the journalists.
Before entering the court, Baher told The Cairo Post that “it is a strange feeling” that he is coming today outside the cage, and that he was “slightly” hopeful about his case, especially after the Cassation Court’s ruling.