News National Frustration as Al Jazeera verdict delayed

Frustration as Al Jazeera verdict delayed

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Australian journalist Peter Greste says the delay of a verdict in his retrial by an Egyptian court is frustrating and is putting his life, and that of his colleagues in Egypt, in limbo.

As the court in Cairo was due to deliver a verdict in a second trial against Mr Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues, Mr Greste – who is in Australia and being tried in absentia – learned via Twitter that the decision had been delayed.

No reason was given and while a new date of August 2 has been announced, confusion remains.

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Mr Greste said the uncertainty was typical of the legal process.

The three journalists were jailed last year for “spreading false news” during their coverage of the turmoil after the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

An appeals court ordered a retrial and the men were released after spending more than 400 days in jail.

“This is really quite typical of what we have seen so many times throughout this whole process, where just when you think something is definitive, is certain, you wind up with a change,” he told ABC TV.

Mr Greste said the delay was “incredibly frustrating” and held even more serious consequences for his colleagues, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, who remain in Egypt after he was deported.

“For all of us, we can’t move on until we end up with this verdict,” he said.

“We can’t move on with our lives, we can’t plan, our families can’t plan.

“As long as it keeps shifting, it makes it tougher and tougher to get on with our lives.”

Mr Greste said he did not know why the verdict was delayed.

“It’s possible that the judge was sick, it’s possible the judges are continuing to review some of the evidence,” he said.

“The whole process has really been very opaque.”

Egyptian state news agency MENA reported that the ruling is now expected on August 2.

Broadcaster Al Jazeera issued a statement saying: “We are outraged that the verdict has been adjourned as today was meant to be the final court hearing for our colleagues.”

In Egypt, Baher Mohamed said the postponing of the verdict was “very strange”.

“It’s disturbing that the trial was postponed without informing our lawyers,” he told French news agency AFP.

“I don’t want to predict anything about the verdict. Anything could happen.”

Mohamed Fahmy said the delay was an insult to the defendants and their families.

“We have been in a nightmare for 19 months,” he said.

Mr Greste says a conviction will effectively end his career as a foreign correspondent because it will curtail his ability to travel.

His colleagues are at risk of returning to prison.

If convicted, the journalists can appeal to Egypt’s Court of Cassation, which can uphold or cancel the ruling. If it cancels the verdict it will examine the case itself.

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