An Egyptian judge took steps on Tuesday to help Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy regain a passport for the first time since his arrest in 2013, a measure that would allow him to get married and live a more normal life.
Following a hearing at Cairo's Tora Prison on Tuesday, Mr. Fahmy says he was informed he is free to file a report at a police station that his passport is missing, a step that could pave way for the Canadian embassy in Cairo to issue a new one. "I told them all I need from you is to give permission to the embassy to give me a new passport so I can move on with my life, rent a hotel room, drive a car, get married and conduct official transactions," Mr. Fahmy said, standing outside the courtroom.
Mr. Fahmy's missing Canadian passport has been the subject of legal wrangling since he and his colleague Baher Mohamed were released on bail in February after spending more than 400 days in prison. The two, along with Australian journalist Peter Greste, were charged with spreading "false news" and aiding a terrorist organization. Mr. Greste was deported in February after an appeals court ordered a retrial in the case of the three Al Jazeera English journalists.
Mr. Fahmy said the plainclothes security officers who arrested him at a Marriott hotel in Cairo took his passport following his arrest. Mr. Mohamed, who appeared in court alongside Mr. Fahmy, also has not recovered his Egyptian ID card.
The lack of proper identification limits the journalists' ability even to travel within Egypt. Mr. Mohamed has been unable to access his bank account.
After a lengthy initial trial last year, the three journalists were sentenced to seven to 10 years in prison.
Mr. Fahmy gave up his Egyptian citizenship expecting that he, like Mr. Greste, would be deported under an order by Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi that allows the expulsion of foreigners jailed in Egypt.
Also on Tuesday, Judge Hassan Farid swore in a new technical committee tasked with reviewing the prosecution's video evidence. The new committee was given a month to establish whether the journalists falsified news reports. Farid handed the committee seven envelopes containing CDs.
The new committee replaces another one convened during the initial trial. At a hearing last week, members of the first committee declined to stand by a report they signed accusing the journalists of altering videos and endangering national security.
Mr. Fahmy said it was a positive sign that Judge Farid did not ask the new committee to examine whether the videos constituted a security threat. "It didn't make sense that a video editor or a studio engineer decides if the videos are against national security," he said.
After Tuesday's brief hearing, Judge Farid adjourned the trial until April 22.