News World Greste’s colleague Mohamed to stand trial

Greste’s colleague Mohamed to stand trial

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Australian journalist Peter Greste has been freed, and a Canadian colleague is close to release, but hopes are running thin for the third Al-Jazeera journalist arrested in Cairo with the pair.

Baher Mohamed faces staying in jail indefinitely because he has only Egyptian nationality.

• Gresta breaks silence
• ‘Peter Gresta is a free man’

Under global pressure to release the prisoners, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree tailored for Mr Greste and colleague Mohamed Fahmy, allowing the deportation of foreigners, but is overlooking Mr Mohamed.

Mr Greste, an acclaimed reporter for Al-Jazeera English, was deported last week.

Mr Fahmy, a dual national, had to renounce his Egyptian citizenship and his release and deportation to Canada is imminent, a government official said.

But in the face of delays, prominent lawyer Amal Clooney, who married Hollywood star George Clooney last year, has requested a meeting with Mr Sisi to press Mr Fahmy’s case, a letter obtained by AFP showed, leaving Mr Mohamed in the cold.

“We’re paying the price for being Egyptian,” his embittered wife Jihan Rashid told AFP.

“It’s the peak of injustice for my husband to remain in prison and be tried while his foreign colleagues are freed.”

Peter Greste's family
Australian reporter Peter Greste with his parents after he was released from an Egyptian prison. Photo: AAP

The three media employees of the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera English broadcaster were arrested in December 2013, and tried for allegedly supporting the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood in their coverage.

The trial came against the backdrop of a cold war between Egypt and Qatar, which supported the Islamist movement of president Mohamed Morsi, whom Mr Sisi deposed in July 2013.

The trio were sentenced to seven years in prison, and the court handed Mr Mohamed an additional three years because police who searched his home and found a spent bullet casing he had picked up at a protest.

A court in January ordered a retrial for the reporters, without setting a date, but Mr Mohamed is set to stand alone in the dock.

“Their deportation means in effect their innocence,” Ms Rashid said of Mr Greste and Mr Fahmy.

“Why should my husband remain in prison?”

His only options are an acquittal or a presidential pardon, which Mr Sisi’s office has said could only come after the retrial, his lawyer Mostafa Nagy told AFP.

Ms Rashid, who with Mr Mohamed has three children, one a boy born while his father was in jail, said she fears that interest in his case will fade once Fahmy is also deported.

“I am seriously working on getting him another nationality,” she said.

Greste’s release was welcomed by the western governments that pushed for his release and Al-Jazeera, which continues to insist all its reporters be freed.

In Egypt, however, where anti-Qatar and Islamist sentiment runs high, mr Mohamed is scarcely on the radar.

“The Egyptian media doesn’t mention him and is unconcerned about his fate,” Ms Rashid said.

Media advocacy groups say at least 10 journalists are imprisoned in Egypt, where reporters increasingly censor themselves for fear of angering the government or being tainted as Islamists.

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