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Egypt court adjourns Al-Jazeera retrial to Wednesday

March 19, 2015

An Egyptian court adjourned until Wednesday the retrial of three Al-Jazeera journalists accused of supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement, after listening to expert witnesses.

Australian journalist Peter Greste, who was deported to his home country in February, is being tried in absentia.

Also on trial are Canadian reporter Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, as well as others, all of whom attended Thursday’s hearing as free men after the judge released them at their first retrial hearing.

Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed, who are accused of “spreading false news” while covering demonstrations after the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, spent more than a year in prison.

Last year, the trio were sentenced to from seven to 10 years in jail, but an appeals court in January granted them a retrial, saying the verdict had not been supported by evidence.

On Thursday, the court ordered creation of a new technical committee to review the videos used as prosecution evidence, said an AFP journalist who attended the trial.

It also heard several witnesses, including a member of the technical committee whose testimony was used during the first trial.

The expert denied the conclusions of the technical report attributed to him that was used against the defendants in the first trial.

“I did not write in the report if (the videos) are a threat to state security or not,” Kamel Mohamed Kamel said.

“Some videos have been edited, but I can not say if they have altered the reality (of events) or not,” he added.

The journalists were arrested in December 2013 during a crackdown on Morsi’s supporters.

Their initial trial came against the backdrop of strained ties between Egypt and Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based and which supported Morsi.

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