Three journalists working for Qatar-based network Al-Jazeera English who are on trial in Egypt for their alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood have pleaded not guilty on Thursday. The trio were denied bail and their trial was adjourned until March 5.
Australian Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed, wearing white prison outfits, appeared in metal cages, according to Reuters, which says several others identified as al-Jazeera journalists are being tried in absentia.
Al-Jazeera reports that the three who appeared in court on Thursday are accused of “joining, or aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.”
The cause of the three journalists has been a subject on social media, including a Facebook page Free Peter Greste.
The three were detained in Cairo on December 29 and have remained in custody ever since. According to Reuters:
“All three deny the charges and Al Jazeera has said the accusations are absurd. Egyptian officials have said the case is not linked to freedom of expression and that the journalists raised suspicions by operating without proper accreditation.”
NPR’s Leila Fadel reports on Thursday’s All Things Considered from Cairo that the journalists:
“[Have] been in prison for 52 days in harsh conditions. And while there has been an international outcry over their arrest as an attack on freedom of speech, the case has received little public sympathy in Egypt.”
“Journalists should not have to risk years in an Egyptian prison for doing their job,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, tells Reuters.
In a statement, Heather Alan, head of news gathering at Al-Jazeera English, said the media company believes the journalists will be acquitted.
” The lawyers are fully on board with us, they fully believe in our case, they fully believe that we were just operating as journalists,” Alan says.