, CAIRO, Egypt, Jan 1 – Egypt’s top court Thursday ordered a retrial of three Al-Jazeera reporters whose imprisonment on charges of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood triggered global outrage, but kept them in custody pending a new hearing.
Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed of the broadcaster’s English service were detained in December 2013 for spreading false information.
Greste and Fahmy each got seven years, and Mohamed was jailed for 10.
“The Court of Cassation has accepted their appeal and ordered a retrial,” Greste’s defence lawyer Amr Al-Deeb said after a hearing lasting just 30 minutes.
Hopes for the journalists’ release have grown following a thaw in relations between Cairo and Qatar, where their employer is based.
Both the defence and the prosecution had requested a retrial.
“I know that we should be happy for accepting the appeal, but I was hoping for my brother to be released,” Fahmy’s brother Adel told reporters.
“I hope the reconciliation efforts between Egypt and Qatar continue for the sake of my brother and his colleagues … who are paying the price of a political crisis.”
The Al-Jazeera reporters, who authorities say lacked proper accreditation, were sentenced in June on charges of spreading false information aiding the Muslim Brotherhood after the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
The Brotherhood, which saw electoral success after the ouster of longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011, has since been declared a “terrorist organisation” in Egypt.
Greste’s parents told Australia’s ABC ahead of the hearing that they had “confidence in the integrity of the Egyptian appeals system”.