Re­trial date set for Al-jazeera jour­nal­ists

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

CAIRO — Egypt will hold a re­trial for two Al-jazeera English jour­nal­ists still im­pris­oned there be­gin­ning to­day, court of­fi­cials said on Sun­day, throw­ing into ques­tion one of their fates af­ter au­thor­i­ties de­ported their Aus­tralian col­league.

Many be­lieved Mo­hammed Fahmy, the satel­lite chan­nel’s Cairo bureau chief who re­cently gave up his Egyptian cit­i­zen­ship, would be de­ported like Aus­tralian Peter Greste.

News of the re­trial of Mr Fahmy and his Egyptian col­league Ba­her Mo­hammed, con­firmed by court of­fi­cials who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity as they weren’t au­tho­rised to speak to jour­nal­ists, threw that into ques­tion.

The trial date “rep­re­sents our worst night­mare, to have to go through an­other cir­cus of a re­trial”, Mr Fahmy’s fam­ily said in a state­ment.

They said Mr Fahmy, also a Canadian cit­i­zen, had given up his Egyptian cit­i­zen­ship as part of a deal with pros­e­cu­tors to be de­ported.

Canadian min­is­ter of state for con­sular af­fairs Lynne Yelich said Canada was “deeply con­cerned” by the an­nounce­ment, com­ing “de­spite as­sur­ances that Mr Fahmy would be re­leased along with his col­league, Peter Greste”.

“Canada calls for the im­me­di­ate re­lease of Mr Fahmy,” Yelich said in a state­ment. “I have ... con­tin­ued to raise this gov­ern­ment’s con­cerns re­gard­ing Mr Fahmy’s case with se­nior Egyptian of­fi­cials and I will con­tinue to do so. We re­main hope­ful that Mr Fahmy’s case will be re­solved in a timely man­ner.”

Mr Greste, now home in Australia, was de­ported 1 Fe­bru­ary un­der a new law that ap­pears to have been tai­lored to the Al-jazeera case. It al­lows Egyptian Pres­i­dent Ab­delFat­tah el-sissi to de­port for­eign­ers any time dur­ing their pros­e­cu­tion.

Free­dom Po­lice ar­rested the three jour­nal­ists in De­cem­ber 2013. Pros­e­cu­tors filed charges ac­cus­ing them of be­ing in­volved in ter­ror­ism and for spread­ing false in­for­ma­tion, though at trial no real ev­i­dence was pre­sented against them.

Greste and Mr Fahmy re­ceived a seven-year pri­son sen­tence while Mo­hamed re­ceived a 10-year sen­tence for also be­ing found with a spent bul­let cas­ing.

The jour­nal­ists, as well as AlJazeera and hu­man rights groups, said they were ar­rested sim­ply for do­ing their jobs as re­porters.

Ties be­tween Qatar and Egypt also strained fol­low­ing the mili- tary’s 2013 ouster of Is­lamist Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi.

“Ba­her and Mo­hamed have been un­justly jailed for over a year, even though the en­tire world knows they are in­no­cent,” Al-jazeera said on its web­site.

“With a date now set for the re­trial the Egyptian au­thor­i­ties know ex­actly what to do: Throw the en­tire case out and give Ba­her and Mo­hammed their free­dom which has been de­nied to them for more than 400 days.”

Yet the new move to retry the pair raised new fears about the case. Ba­her’s wife, Je­han Rashed, al­ready has be­gun cam­paign­ing to win her hus­band for­eign cit­i­zen­ship out of fear he could be left be­hind oth­er­wise.

“I wish that some­one can give me an­other na­tion­al­ity” for Mo­hammed, she told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Thurs­day.

“Free­dom is more pre­cious than na­tion­al­ity.” — AP

IN this May 2014 file photo, Canadian-egyptian act­ing Al-jazeera bureau chief Mo­hammed Fahmy talks to the judge in a court­house near Tora pri­son along with sev­eral other de­fen­dants dur­ing their trial on ter­ror charges in Cairo, Egypt.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.