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Egypt’s retrial of Al Jazeera journalists set to begin

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An Egyptian court is expected to begin on Thursday the retrial of Al Jazeera journalists on anti-terrorism charges in a case that has triggered an international outcry.

The retrial by the Cairo Criminal Court is to be held more than a week after Egyptian authorities released and deported Australian Peter Greste, one of the three journalists charged in the case with aiding the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news about Egypt.

Greste was freed from prison and allowed to return home under a decision by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.

Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohammed Fahmy and their Egyptian colleague Baher Mohammed were sentenced to seven years in prison in June.

The ruling angered human rights and media freedom groups, who said no concrete evidence in support of the charges had been presented in court.

Last month, Egypt’s top appeals court overturned the verdict and ordered a retrial for the trio.

Fahmy has reportedly renounced his Egyptian citizenship to qualify for deportation under a decree signed by al-Sissi in November, which was widely seen as aimed to resolving the controversial case.

The decree does not apply to Mohammed, who holds an Egyptian passport only.

Fahmy, writing recently in the New York Times, complained that the three were “pawns in a geopolitical game” between Egypt and Al Jazeera’s owner, the Gulf emirate of Qatar, a staunch backer of the Brotherhood.

A rapprochement in recent months between Qatar and Egypt has raised hopes for an end to the case that started in late 2013. SAPA


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