Al-Jazeera retrial postponed to April 28
Mohamed Fahmy (L) and Baher Mohamed (R) - Nourhan Magdi for the cairopost

CAIRO: The retrial of two Al-Jazeera English journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, on terrorism-related charges adjourned to April 28 Wednesday morning.

The judge ordered the prosecution to submit the deportation papers of the Australian Journalist Peter Greste, as well as submit proof from the State Information Service and the press syndicate whether the accused journalists were licensed to work in Egypt.

Wednesday was the fifth hearing in both journalists’ retrial since the case was brought back to court after Egypt’s high court abolished in January a ruling that had sentenced the journalists to between seven and 10 years in jail.

Judge Hassan Fareed received Wednesday video evidence from a technical committee newly assigned to view seized footage, after an old committee previously failed to answer court’s questions on its initial report that accused journalists of harming state’s security.

The new committee’s report will be discussed during the next hearing.

During Wednesday’s court session, Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris also testified as a defense witness in support of Canadian journalist Fahmy.

Sawiris raised before the judge the “differences” between Al-Jazeera English and its affiliate Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr (AJMM,) describing AJMM’s coverage as “inciting.”

Sawiris said that Fahmy does not belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and that a “strong friendship” has grown between him and Fahmy from the time the latter was working for CNN, according to Youm7.

The telecommunication mogul also testified that not all media practitioners are members of the Journalists’ Syndicate, adding that he did not put that as a condition when he hired employees at his channels.

Furthermore, he said that the law does not prevent broadcasting from a hotel or any other place, and that a correspondent does not have to ask the channel’s owner about licenses every time he covers an external incidence from a hotel.

The lack of Al-Jazeera’s proper license crisis was brought up by Fahmy in numerous statements to media, where he accused the Qatari channel of “epic negligence” in protecting its journalists.

In this case commonly known in local media as the “Mariott Cell,” both Fahmy and Mohamed, along with half dozen others including students, are accused of spreading “false news that aims to endanger national security and promote the Brotherhood group.”

Fahmy and Mohamed frequently talked to the press about an “unprecedented legal limbo” they have been facing since they were arrested in December 2013 along with their Australian colleague Peter Greste, who was deported early February.

Later, both Mohamed and Fahmy were released pending retrial. With travel ban restriction, Canadian Fahmy cannot seek deportation like Greste, despite having renounced his Egyptian citizenship per a high ranking officials’ request, according to him.

Since then, Fahmy has been struggling to convince the Canadian government to issue him a new passport, in order to use it for identification and marriage. He said that walking in Egypt without any identification papers was challenging.

Ottawa hinted Monday it is now “able” to issue him a new passport, without giving details on time of a possible issue.

Journalist @KristenMcTighe said on her Twitter account that Fahmy received a temporary passport from the Canadian ambassador in Egypt.


Additional reporting by Amina el-Mougy and Mohamed el-Alem

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