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Egyptian court postpones verdict in Al Jazeera journalists' retrial

A court in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, has postponed the verdict in the retrial of three Al Jazeera journalists, jailed for aiding a terrorist organization with false reporting. The case has caused a global outcry.

A court in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, postponed a session on Thursday that had been expected to bring a verdict in the retrial of three Al Jazeera television journalists, jailed for "spreading false news."

"We are extremely angry that the verdict has been adjourned today," Al Jazeera Media Network's spokesperson tweeted on @AJENews.

According to anonymous officials cited by AP news agency, the verdict has been postponed until August 2.

The officials said the judge in the case, Hassan Farid, was ill.

Long prison terms

The retrial of the three journalists - Australian Peter Greste, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed - was ordered in January by an appeals court that said the initial verdict lacked evidence.

Ägypten Ausweisung Journalist Peter Greste ARCHIVBILD 2014

Greste has been deported to Australia

In the first trial last year, Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years' imprisonment, and Mohamed to ten years.

Greste, who has already been deported to Australia under a law allowing the transfer of foreigners on trial to their home countries, is being retried in absentia.

The other two defendants were later released on bail.

Terrorism accusations

The three were convicted of aiding a "terrorist organization" - a reference to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. They were arrested in December 2013 during a crackdown on the group, which supported ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The Brotherhood was outlawed in Egypt following Morsi's ouster amid mass protests against his rule in 2013.

If convicted at their retrial, the journalists can still appeal to Egypt's Court of Cassation, which has the power to uphold or cancel the ruling. In the latter scenario, it would examine the case itself.

Politically motivated?

Al Jazeera has repeatedly denounced the trials as "political," amid tensions between Egypt and Qatar, which supported Morsi's government.

Rights groups say that journalists and freedom of speech in Egypt are under threat from the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Fahmy has accused Al Jazeera of negligence and backing the Brotherhood, suing the network for $100 million (912 000 euros).

tj/ksb (AFP, Reuters)