Middle East

Egypt 'sets appeal date' for jailed al-Jazeera journalists

Mohammed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, Peter Greste
Image caption The three jailed al-Jazeera journalists: Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste

A court in Egypt has set the appeals hearing of three jailed al-Jazeera journalists for 1 January, says the family of one of them.

Mohamed Fahmy's family said Cairo's Court of Cassation will hear the case.

The three journalists of the Qatar-based broadcaster were jailed for seven years on 23 June. They were accused of spreading false news and supporting the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood.

The court will either uphold the verdict or call for a retrial.

It is thought the Court of Cassation will take one or two sessions to deliver its ruling.

A lawyer familiar with the case told the BBC that if the court rejects the sentences, the case will return to the criminal court for a retrial.

Should it uphold the verdict, the only other alternative is for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to offer a pardon.

Silent protests

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed at their sentencing on 23 June
Image caption BBC journalists joined colleagues around the world in silently protesting against the sentencing

Egyptian-Canadian bureau chief Mr Fahmy, Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were arrested on 29 December last year.

At the sentencing in June, Mr Fahmy received a further three years on charges of possessing "unlicensed ammunition".

Eleven other defendants, including three foreign journalists, tried in absentia at the same time received 10-year sentences.

The sentencing of the three sparked an international outcry and raised concerns over growing media restrictions in Egypt.

Journalists around the world held silent protests against their imprisonment

Al-Jazeera was banned from operating inside Egypt after the authorities accused it of broadcasting reports sympathetic to former President Mohammed Morsi and the now banned Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera has consistently denied the allegations.

However Qatar has supported the Brotherhood and is unpopular with Egypt's government.

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