Egypt court orders retrial of jailed Jazeera reporters

Egypt court orders retrial of jailed Jazeera reporters
Egyptian riot policemen stand guard outside the High Court in downtown Cairo.

CAIRO - Egypt's top court Thursday ordered a retrial of three Al-Jazeera reporters whose imprisonment on charges of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood triggered global outrage, but kept them in custody pending a new hearing.

Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed of the broadcaster's English service were detained in December 2013 for spreading false information.

Greste and Fahmy each got seven years, and Mohamed was jailed for 10.

"The Court of Cassation has accepted their appeal and ordered a retrial," Greste's lawyer Amr al-Deeb said Thursday.

The defendants were not at the hearing, which lasted just 30 minutes.

Hopes for their release have grown since a thaw in diplomatic relations between Egypt and Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based.

"I hope the reconciliation efforts between Egypt and Qatar continue for the sake of my brother and his colleagues... who are paying the price of a political crisis," Adel Fahmy told reporters.

Both the defence and the prosecution had requested a retrial.

Mohamed's wife Jihan welcomed the retrial as a "small but positive step towards my husband being freed".

"This past year has been the worst year of my and my children's lives," she added.

Al-Jazeera called for the swift release of its employees.

Acting director general Mostafa Souag said they had been "unjustly imprisoned".

"Their arrest was political, the sentencing was political and their being kept in prison is, for us, political," he said.

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