Abu Deraa trial postponed again

Abu Deraa trial postponed again

The Federation of Journalists and Correspondants in Northern Sinai held a protest on Tuesday in solidarity with journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa (Photo by Nasser Al-Azzazi)

The Federation of Journalists and Correspondants in Northern Sinai held a protest on Tuesday in solidarity with journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa
(Photo by Nasser Al-Azzazi)

The second court hearing of Sinai based journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa was postponed on Wednesday to 29 September.

Abu Deraa faces a military trial for allegedly “intentionally spreading false information on the military.” He was detained on 4 September and remains in detention.

Initially, the military had refused to disclose the charges against him.

Abu Deraa’s first hearing was held last Sunday. Mahmoud Rady, one of the lawyers representing him, said on Sunday that the defense is adhering to its plea that the “military court is of no jurisdiction and will ask that the accused be tried by a civil court.”

However, military spokesperson Colonel Ahmed Ali said Abu Deraa’s accusations do fall under military court and have nothing to do with civil courts. He also said that Abu Deraa was arrested in a military area, not authorised to civilians.

Abu Deraa had reported on 3 September that military air raids in Sinai resulted in four injuries and the destruction of six houses and a mosque. Earlier, the military had released a statement saying that it killed and injured 23 “terrorists” in the same raids.

Rady also said one of the charges against Abu Deraa is “presenting contradictory outcomes to the Sinai military security campaign.”

Abu Deraa, who works for Al-Masry Al-Youm private newspaper and the private television channel ONTV, is the recipient of the European Union’s Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press for an article he wrote in 2012 on human trafficking in Sinai, a topic that is seldom discussed.

His arrest sparked concerns on the security of journalists in Egypt with the latest concern being voiced by the Arab Network for Human Rights Information which demanded on Tuesday that this “extrajudicial trial is stopped” and that Abu Deraa is released and all charges against him dropped.

Earlier, the Press Syndicate announced concern over his arrest and asserted that “journalists’ freedom is untouchable,” adding that citizens should be tried before civil courts.  The National Council for Human Rights also condemned his arrest and announced solidarity with him. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said referring journalists to military trial is a “setback to freedom of speech.”

Several international groups also voiced their concerns. Reporters Without Borders demanded his immediate release and the Committee to Protect Journalists called on Egyptian authorities to end their campaign of harassment of local and international journalists.

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