Egypt’s top court accepted the appeal of three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned for over a year, setting up a retrial for as soon as this month.
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who were arrested in Egypt at the end of 2013 on charges of aiding and abetting the Muslim Brotherhood and convicted in June, 2014, were granted a new trial by Egypt’s Court of Cassation. But they were not released on bail, leaving them in an Egyptian prison until the retrial.
“They will not be released until they appear before the new chamber, which will decide whether to release them or not,” Mostafa Nagy, defense attorney for the journalists, said.
“Baher, Peter and Mohammed have been unjustly in jail for over a year now,” an Al Jazeera spokesperson said. “The Egyptian authorities have a simple choice – free these men quickly, or continue to string this out, all the while continuing this injustice and harming the image of their own country in the eyes of the world. They should choose the former.”
Family members of the journalists responded with mixed emotions:
“We have learned in the past that this is not over until he is out and it looks like we have a long road ahead of us,” Mike and Andrew Greste said. Fahmy’s brother simply responded, “”I hoped for more today.”
Baher Mohamed’s wife expressed gratitude:
“I was nervously waiting for the court’s decision from the morning, thank God they accepted the appeal, and this is a small but positive step towards my husband being freed,” said Rashed.
The three journalists’ imprisonment sparked a global social media movement in 2014 with the hashtag #FreeAJStaff becoming a dominant meme featured across social media, digital media, and broadcast television.
Journalists from around the world have shown their support, gathering in newsrooms to hold up signs lobbying for the journalists’ release, while many have posted photos with duck tape over their mouth to symbolize the battle for press freedom.