Egyptian court adjourns trial of Al Jazeera journalists after witnesses admit lapses

The trial of two Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt has been adjourned until March 25 after the court ordered the creation of a new technical committee to review evidence.


The decision came after expert witnesses, who had previously said the Al Jazeera reporting had harmed national security, admitted they had not seen all the video collected as evidence.

Mohamed Fahmy, a naturalised Canadian who has given up his Egyptian citizenship, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed are charged with aiding a terrorist organisation — a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Their Australian colleague Peter Greste was also facing charges but was freed and deported after 400 days in a Cairo prison.

The court heard testimony from a committee of technical experts that had said last year the Al Jazeera journalists had broadcast footage that was harmful to Egypt’s security.

The judge said a new committee would have to be formed when the witnesses said they had not seen all the available footage before they had signed their damning report.

“I did not see them and I did not write a report on them,” Mohamed Abdel Hakim, president of the original committee, said when asked about some of the videos.

Outside of the courtroom, the defendants expressed cautious optimism.

“Today I think our biggest success is that the technical committee has collapsed and they have contradicted everything they’ve said,” Fahmy told reporters.

Fahmy and Mohamed were released on bail last month after spending more than a year in detention.

“An encouraging start to our #AJRetrial,” Greste said on Twitter.

“Prosecution witnesses said nothing that suggests we were criminals or terrorists.”

The three were originally sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organisation.

Egypt’s high court ordered a retrial in January.