Egypt Sets Retrial Date For Jailed Al Jazeera Journalists -Lawyer

Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were sentenced to seven and 10 years in jail respectively last year.

Mohamed Fahmy (right)

The retrial of two Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt will start on Feb. 12, the lawyer for one of the defendants said on Sunday.

Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were sentenced to seven and 10 years in jail respectively last year on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organisation — a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

A third Al Jazeera reporter, Australian national Peter Greste, was sentenced alongside them, but was unexpectedly freed last Sunday and deported after spending 400 days in prison.

Egypt’s high court ordered a retrial of all three journalists last month.

Following Greste’s release, Egyptian security officials said Fahmy, who held joint Egyptian-Canadian nationality, might soon be deported, raising hopes he would avoid a retrial. However, his fiancee told Reuters on Sunday that she had no information about his possible release.

“The session has been set for Feb. 12, 2015,” said Mostafa Nagy, the lawyer representing Mohamed, who was given an extra three years in jail for possessing a single bullet.

Under a decree issued last November, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has the power to approve the deportation of foreign prisoners.

Canada is deeply concerned with the announcement of a re-trial date despite assurances that Fahmy would be released along with Greste, the office of junior foreign minister Lynne Yelich said in a statement that also called for his immediate release.

“We remain hopeful that Mr. Fahmy’s case will be resolved in a timely manner,” she said.

Amal Clooney, one of Fahmy’s lawyers, wrote to Sisi requesting a meeting to discuss the case, according to a letter dated Feb. 6 that was shown to reporters by his family.

Baher Mohamed is Egyptian and holds no foreign nationality, making his case more difficult to resolve.

Egyptian authorities accuse Qatar-based Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece of the Brotherhood — the movement the army removed from power in 2013. Al Jazeera denies the allegations.

The journalists were detained in December 2013.

They say they were doing their jobs and their imprisonment reinforced the view of human rights groups that the government was rolling back freedoms gained after the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.