Jazeera urges quick Egypt release of jailed reporters

Agence France-Presse

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Jazeera urges quick Egypt release of jailed reporters
The Qatar-based news channel says the prolongation of the custody of its three staffers could only do further damage to Egypt's international standing

DOHA, Qatar (UPDATED) – Al-Jazeera called for the swift release of three of its journalists detained in Egypt for more than a year, after the top appeal court ordered a retrial on Thursday, January 1.

The Qatar-based television news channel said that prolongation of the custody of its three staffers while legal proceedings dragged on could only do further damage to Egypt’s international standing.

Al-Jazeera’s acting director general, Mostafa Souag, welcomed the retrial but said the journalists had been “unjustly imprisoned.”

“Their arrest was political, the sentencing was political and their being kept in prison is, for us, political,” he said on the news channel.

“As a result, we hope a political decision will be taken to release them all, without waiting for a retrial,” he said.

Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed of the broadcaster’s English service have been detained since December 2013 on charges of aiding the party of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

The case, which triggered global outrage, has been widely seen as political and reflecting the anger of the post-Morsi Egyptian regime with Al-Jazeera’s Qatari sponsors who backed the Islamist.

Hopes for the journalists’ release have grown following a thaw in relations between Cairo and Doha.

Egypt’s top court ordered a retrial of the three reporters but kept them in custody pending a new hearing.

“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,” the channel said in a statement Thursday.

“They should choose the former.” – Rappler.com

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