Final verdict for Al Jazeera reporters postponed in Egypt

Verdict session for Al Jazeera staff in Egypt reportedly adjourned to August 2

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Court session in Egypt’s Cairo for Al Jazeera staff has reportedly been adjourned to August 2, the media company said on its Twitter feed on Thursday.

The postponed court session was expected to deliver a verdict for the long running trial. The reason behind the delay could not be immediately confirmed.

"We are extremely angry that the verdict has been adjourned today," Al Jazeera Media Network's spokesperson tweeted on @AJENews.

Al Jazeera journalists Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison in June 2014 for allegedly aiding the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The convictions given to the Al Jazeera staff, including the charge of spreading false news, were all overturned on appeal and they were released on bail in February.

Egypt's Court of Cassation ruled that the original court had been "hasty in pronouncing its verdict" on January 1 and that prosecutors failed to present conclusive evidence that the defendants had helped the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Greste was deported to Australia and is being retried in absentia, while Baher and Fahmy remain in Egypt. Fahmy had to give up his Egyptian citizenship earlier this year to qualify to be deported as Greste was. However, after receiving a temporary Canadian passport at the end of April, he chose to remain in Egypt.

Fahmy was Al Jazeera English’s Cairo bureau chief at the time of his arrest and spent 411 days in custody. He told the BBC that "factors other than evidence" were likely to play a part in "this circus of a retrial."

"I hope the judge understands the international outcry and support we have will only increase and make Egypt look bad and even worse if he puts us back in prison," he added.

"Me, Peter and Baher have become like brothers. He is fighting the battle in Australia and me and Baher are still here."

The Egyptian government sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to national security, banning the group’s activities and  labelling it as a “terrorist organisation.” However, the Brotherhood on multiple occasions has reiterated its commitment to peaceful activism.

Allegations of collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood have all been denied by the journalists. Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, belonged to the Brotherhood. Morsi was overthrown in a military coup in 2013, precipitating the unrest that led to a clamp down on Al Jazeera and the arrest of its journalists.

TRTWorld and agencies