Cairo: Egypt`s top court has accepted the appeal of three Al Jazeera journalists who have been in prison for more than a year, and ordered a retrial for aiding the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, media reported Thursday.
"They will not be released until they appear before the new chamber, which will decide whether to release them or not," Al Jazeera quoted Mostafa Nagy, a defence attorney, as saying.
The court denied bail to Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed and said the case had to go back to the criminal court.
"The Court of Cassation has accepted their appeal and ordered a retrial," Greste`s defence lawyer Amr Al-Deeb said after the hearing.
"Baher, Peter and Mohammed have been unjustly in jail for over a year now. The Egyptian authorities have a simple choice -- free these men quickly, or continue to string this out, all the while continuing this injustice and harming the image of their own country in the eyes of the world. They should choose the former."
Defence lawyer Negad Al-Borai told journalists after the hearing that he hoped for a "happy end" to the case.
"The court has the right to release them today," he said.
Defence lawyers said they believed a retrial for the three men would be held within a month.
Greste`s brothers Mike and Andrew said they were disappointed with the court`s decision.
"We have learned in the past that this is not over until he is out and it looks like we have a long road ahead of us."
Adel Fahmy, Mohammed Fahmy`s brother, said he had hoped his brother would have been freed Thursday. He said each lawyer received three minutes to argue their stance on the case.