Two Al Jazeera English journalists have appeared in a Cairo court for a retrial due to lack of evidence over alleged links to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
The retrial of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed was ordered by the Court of Cessation last month, overturning a lower court’s verdict which found them guilty of aiding the outlawed group.
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A third Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, who was also to be retried, was deported on February 1 under a presidential decree after languishing in jail for 400 days. He has since returned to his home in Australia.
Fahmy and Mohamed have now spent 411 days in prison.
Lack of evidence
Giving its reasoning on Monday for overturning the lower court’s ruling, the Court of Cassation said the “criminal court’s verdict lacked evidence to support its ruling” and “was hasty in pronouncing its verdict”.
It said the first case failed to prove how the journalists had joined the Brotherhood, and failed to prove that an act of “terrorism” actually occurred.
The lower court also “did not wait for medical and legal reports which it had requested after several defendants spoke of being under physical and moral pressure” to make confessions, the appeals court said.
The three journalists, along with seven of their colleagues outside the country, were accused of spreading “false news” during their coverage of demonstrations protesting the military’s toppling of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed received sentences of between seven and 10 years.
In a bid to secure his own release and deportation, Fahmy renounced his Egyptian citizenship and is awaiting a return to Canada, where he also has citizenship.
The journalists have repeatedly said that they were being punished for just doing their jobs.