March 19, 2015 / 11:44 AM / 3 years ago

Egyptian court adjourns Al Jazeera trial after witnesses admit lapses

CAIRO (Reuters) - The trial of two Al Jazeera television journalists was adjourned until March 25 on Thursday after the court ordered the creation of a new technical committee to review their work

Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy is seen outside of a court before a hearing in his trial in Cairo, February 23, 2015. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

The decision came after expert witnesses, who had previously said the Al Jazeera reporting had harmed national security, admitted they had not seen all the video collected as evidence.

Mohamed Fahmy, a naturalized Canadian who has given up his Egyptian citizenship, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed are charged with aiding a terrorist organization — a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The court heard testimony from a committee of technical experts that had said last year the Al Jazeera journalists had broadcast footage that was harmful to Egypt’s security.

The judge said a new committee would have to be formed when the witnesses said they had not seen all the available footage before they had signed their damning report.

“I did not see them and I did not write a report on them,” Mohamed Abdel Hakim, president of the original committee, said when asked about some of the videos.

Outside of the courtroom, the defendants expressed cautious optimism.

“Today I think our biggest success is that the technical committee has collapsed and they have contradicted everything they’ve said,” Fahmy told reporters.

Fahmy and Mohamed were released on bail last month after spending more than a year in detention. A third Al Jazeera journalist, Australian Peter Greste, was deported earlier in February.

“An encouraging start to our #AJRetrial. Prosecution witnesses said nothing that suggests we were criminals or terrorists,” Greste said on his Twitter feed as he followed the case from abroad.

The three were originally sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organization. Egypt’s high court ordered a retrial in January.

Editing by Crispian Balmer

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