Sign up for PM Award Updates!

Egypt court to hear Jazeera journalists’ appeal Jan 1

October 21, 2014

An Egyptian court will hear on January 1 an appeal by three Al-Jazeera journalists and four co-defendants against their conviction of ties with Islamists, a judicial official said Tuesday.

Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were convicted in June of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news that portrayed Egypt as being in a state of “civil war”.

Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year, the authorities have been incensed by the Qatari network’s coverage of their deadly crackdown on his supporters.

They consider Al-Jazeera as the voice of Qatar, and accuse Doha of backing Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, while the emirate openly denounces the crackdown on pro-Morsi backers.

Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years, and Mohamed was jailed for 10 years, in a case that sparked international outrage.

Eleven other defendants tried in absentia, including one Dutch and two British journalists, were given 10-year sentences.

Four other defendants were given seven-year terms, and two were acquitted.

Egypt’s Court of Cassation will examine the appeal on January 1, a court official told AFP, adding that it will also study an appeal filed by the prosecution against the two acquittals.

“The Court of Cassation can order a retrial or even reject the appeal,” defence lawyer Negad Borai told AFP.

Among grounds for appeal cited by Al-Jazeera were “flaws in the arrest procedure” and “the fact that evidence presented in court did not marry with the charges”.

The jailing of the three journalists triggered global outrage, with US President Barack Obama leading calls for their release.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.