The trial of Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed, three Al Jazeera English journalists has been adjourned until April 22. The three have been detained for over 100 days and has appeared in Egyptian court five times, the last this past Thrusday. Each journalist is charged with spreading false news and providing a platform to and aiding the outlawed and blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood during the military coup that overthrew the legitimate elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in July.
Greste’s reports from Kenya and content from Sky News Arabia’s coverage of Egypt were screened and brought into consideration by the judge who ordered a special panel to review the videos presented into evidence by the prosecution on the April 10 trial. Defense lawyers argued the video reports by Greste, Fahmy, and Mohamed had nothing to do with the case.
A fourth Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah al-Shami has been detained the longest for 240 days and has been on hunger strike since January 23. His past court appearance on March 13 resulted in his detention being extended for an additional 45 days. His brother, Mohammed al-Shami has called for his release and reports from a letter that his health is deteriorating.
Al Jazeera strongly rejects the charges and demands for the immediate release of its staff.
Al Anstey, the managing director of Al Jazeera English said: "Mohamed, Baher, and Peter have now been behind bars in Egypt for 100 days for simply doing their job, and for carrying out the highest quality journalism.
"The charges against them are false and baseless, so there is no justification whatsoever in the detention of innocent journalists for such an outrageous amount of time. We continue to call for their immediate release and for the release of our colleague from Al Jazeera Arabic, Abdullah Al Shami, who has been behind bars for 236 days."
Al Jazeera launched the #FreeAJstaff campaign to call for the release of the journalists, including more than 40,000 people actively involved and 800 million impressions of the #FreeAJStaff on Twitter and calls from governments, international institutions and media outlets.
"We are very grateful for the immense support of our staff, from right around the world. The response to their detention has been outstanding. The campaign is focused on the release of our four staff, but is fundamentally a stand in the defense of journalism itself, and a call for people everywhere to have a right to be heard and the right to know what is really going on in their world."
Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday that the three journalists were “prisoners of conscience” and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
What the Egyptian authorities are doing is vindictive persecution of journalists for merely doing their jobs," the statement said.
The international community including the US, UK and EU have echoed the same call of action for the release of Al Jazeera’s staff imprisoned in Egypt.