Last updated: 9 January, 2013

Egyptian journalist freed pending military trial

An Egyptian journalist accused of trespassing and filming in a military zone on the border with the Gaza Strip has been released, but only until his trial continues next week, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

The army arrested Mohammed Sabry, a freelance video journalist and activist who opposed military trials, in the border town of Rafah in the eastern Sinai Peninsula while he was working for Reuters news agency, Amnesty International said.

He appeared before a military court in Ismailiya on Wednesday, where the judge decided to release him until a new hearing on Tuesday, one of his lawyers told AFP.

A new constitution approved in a referendum last month allows Egypt’s military to try civilians suspected of “harming” the armed forces, a controversial clause that critics say can be used to stifle freedom of speech.

Amnesty slammed Sabri’s arrest, demanding his release and for all charges to be dropped.

“It is particularly worrying that a journalist seems to be facing an unfair trial by military court simply for carrying out his work,” said the London-based watchdog’s Middle East deputy director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Sabry was reporting on a new military decree imposing restrictions on land ownership in the Sinai.

The peninsula, bordering Israel and Gaza, has become a haven for smugglers and Islamist militants who target security forces.