An Egyptian court considering an appeal of three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in the country for over a year ordered a retrial on Thursday after a hearing that lasted less than 30 minutes, according to media reports. The three journalists -- Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed -- were arrested in December 2013 on charges of collaborating with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to spread false news.
The three journalists, who were not present at the hearing, were denied bail and will now have to remain in custody until a new trial is held within a month, according to media reports. “They will not be released until they appear before the new chamber, which will decide whether to release them or not,” Mostafa Nagy, a lawyer representing the journalists, told Al Jazeera.
Reacting to the verdict, Qatar-based Al Jazeera issued a statement demanding that Egyptian authorities release the three men immediately.
“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,” a spokesperson for the news organization said, in the statement. “They should choose the former.”
The family of the journalists also expressed disappointment at the verdict and alleged that their lawyers had not been given enough time to present their case, according to media reports.
The three journalists have now spent over a year in prison since their arrest on Dec. 29, 2013. In a trial that was reportedly condemned by several human rights groups as “politicized,” Peter Greste, who is an Australian, and Mohammed Fahmy, who holds an Egyptian and Canadian citizenship, were sentenced to seven years in prison while Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian national, was given a 10-year sentence.
The three have repeatedly denied the charges leveled against them and claimed that they were simply reporting the news, according to media reports.