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Deportation Sought for Two Jailed Journalists in Egypt

FILE - Mohamed Fahmy (R) and other defendants react at a court proceeding in Cairo, June 23, 2014.
FILE - Mohamed Fahmy (R) and other defendants react at a court proceeding in Cairo, June 23, 2014.

Two of three Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt have applied to be deported under a new law after the country's highest court ordered their retrial but did not free them as their families had hoped.

The deportation move follows a decision by an Egyptian court Thursday ordering the re-trial of the al-Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed.

The brothers of Greste said Friday in Australia that they have pinned their hopes for their brother's return to Australia on a recent decree by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi giving him the power to deport foreign crime suspects.

"Now that Peter is essentially an innocent man, he's not a convict anymore, it does allow for some room to move and for steps to be taken for him (Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi) to step in and enact his presidential powers and deport him," said Andrew Greste, Peter’s brother.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed the deportation route for Greste is being pursued.

"They did change the law recently and that enables there to be a kind of prisoner transfer or an accused person can be transferred back to another country, their home country and we're pursuing all those opportunities now," said Bishop.

"Our lawyer Amal Clooney has submitted a request for deportation to the public prosecutor and the presidency which has been endorsed by the Canadian government and we believe this is the best option," Fahmy's brother Adel told Reuters.

"Experts we spoke to said that retrial would commence, possibly in two or three months and could take up to a year before we reach a verdict that we can't gurantee," the brother said.

The court of Cassation in Cairo has not set a date for the re-trial of the men.

The journalists were arrested in December 2013 at a Cairo hotel where they were working. In July, a court convicted them of supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood, and gave Greste and Fahmy seven-year sentences and a 10 year sentence to Mohamed.

An al-Jazeera spokesman said Egyptian authorities should quickly free the journalists rather than "continuing this injustice and harming the image of their own country in the eyes of the world."

The network has insisted the three were doing their jobs reporting the news, not aiding the Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Portions of this story are excerpted from Reuters.

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