Egypt court orders retrial of Al Jazeera journalists

Egypt's highest appellate court ordered Thursday the retrial of three journalists from the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera news network

Egypt's highest appellate court ordered Thursday the retrial of three journalists from the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera news network

CAIRO – Egypt's highest appellate court ordered Thursday the retrial of three journalists from the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera news network who have been imprisoned on charges of abetting terrorists and broadcasting false news.

The court accepted an appeal by 7 imprisoned defendants in the case, which also involves 11 others still at large, a judicial source said.

Three journalists – Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmi, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed –  were handed in June jail sentences ranging between seven and ten years each after being convicted of broadcasting false news and threatening Egypt's national security.

Greste and Fahmi were both sentenced to seven years behind bars, while Mohamed was sentenced to ten years.

Three other foreign Aljazeera correspondents – two Britons and one Dutch national – were sentenced in absentia to ten years each.

Grest, Fahmi and Mohamed had been detained by authorities since they were arrested in December 2013 from a hotel in Cairo and had their equipment confiscated.

The raid came days after the government declared the Muslim Brotherhood – the group from which ousted president Mohamed Morsi hails – a "terrorist" group, ratcheting up an already harsh crackdown on Morsi's supporters.

A group of western governments had called for the release of Greste and Fahmi amid an international solidarity campaign launched by Al Jazeera to press for the release of its journalists.

The Egyptian government had repeatedly accused Al Jazeera of bias in favor of Morsi – which the channel denies – amid tensions with the Qatari government over Doha's criticisms of Morsi's ouster.

The local authorities frequently criticize western media coverage of events in Egypt since Morsi's overthrow.

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