CAIRO: The retrial of Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Mohamed Baher was adjourned Sunday to March 19.
The two officers, as well as a number of technical experts who were called as witnesses and were not present the previous session on Feb. 23 were also absent from Sunday’s session, and the judge ordered that they shall be fined 500EGP.
In December 2013, Fahmy and Mohamed were arrested along with their Australian colleague Peter Greste and charged with broadcasting “false news,” and membership in a terrorist organization. The trio was initially sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison in, but was granted a retrial.
The video evidence presented at trial included a number of clips from stations other than Al Jazeera, including a documentary about horses from Sky Arabia. While Fahmy and Greste were sentenced to seven years, Baher Mohamed received a 10-year sentence for “possession of a weapon:” a single bullet that was found when the police raided his home. The trial proceedings as well as the sentences caused extreme criticism from human rights groups as well as foreign governments.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has recently stated that he could use his right to issue presidential pardons but only after the trial has finished, since he “cannot interfere in judiciary.”
In November 2014, Sisi issued a deportation decree to extradite foreign prisoners, which is believed by many to have been drafted in response to negative attention around the case.
Per the decree, Australian Greste was deported to his home country in February. Dual Egyptian-Canadian national Fahmy renounced his Egyptian citizenship seeking deportation. However, he is still standing retrial.
Fahmy previously told The Cairo post he renounced his citizenship “against his will,” and is still seeking deportation “for medical treatment for a broken arm and hepatitis C” and that he hopes to re-apply for his Egyptian citizenship from Canada.
In his statements, he made it clear that links between the accused Al-Jazeera journalists and the network’s Arabic branch in Egypt were wrong, and that he himself the coverage and policies of Al-Jazeera Mubasher.
After spending more than a year in prison, Fahmy, Baher and 11 other co-defendants in the case were released pending retrial.
In different interviews, Fahmy has lashed out at Al-Jazeera network over protecting its journalists, and accused it of “epic negligence.”
The three were accused of spreading “false news” about Egypt’s situation in favor of a banned group, in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which could harm the country’s national security.
However, Egypt’s highest appeal court of Cassation found the pre-arrest investigations were “unserious,” the trial “marred with violations of the rights of the defense team, and there was “no evidence” os violence committed by the journalists, and granted the request for a retrial.
During the last hearing, Baher and Fahmy requested to receive back their national ID and passports, which were confiscated when they were arrested.