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Al-Jazeera ‘outraged’ as Egypt court delays retrial verdict

July 30, 2015

Broadcaster Al-Jazeera said it was “outraged” by an Egyptian court’s decision Thursday to postpone a verdict in the retrial of three of its journalists accused of supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Al-Jazeera Media Network’s acting director general Mostefa Souag said: “We are outraged that the verdict has been adjourned as today was meant to be the final court hearing for our colleagues.

“We, along with others, expected a swift end to the ordeal for Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy, and Peter Greste,” he said in a statement.

“All three men have been under immense stress and pressure for the past 19 months and delaying the final verdict has just continued the strain on them and their families,” said Souag.

“We demand the Egyptian authorities bring an end to the charges against Baher, Peter and Mohamed which should be dropped immediately. Journalism is not a crime.”

All three men were jailed last year for “spreading false news” during their coverage after the Egyptian army removed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Greste, an Australian, has since been deported while Fahmy, who received seven years in the initial trial, and Mohamed, who was jailed for 10 years, were freed on bail earlier this year after serving more than 400 days in detention.

An appeals court subsequently ordered a retrial, saying the verdict lacked evidence against the three journalists working for the Qatari-based network’s English channel.

Ties between Doha and Cairo have been badly strained over Qatar’s backing for Morsi’s short-lived government under his Muslim Brotherhood.

On Thursday, the court did not hold its much-anticipated session to announce a verdict, with a defence lawyer saying he had been told it was postponed.

The ruling is now expected on August 2, state news agency MENA reported, though some relatives and lawyers said it was set for August 8.

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