Detained journalists’ trial in Egypt is ‘a trial of journalism itself’
— AJAM Photo (@ajamphoto) March 5, 2014
The Egyptian trial of three members of Al Jazeera English has been adjourned until March 24, Al Jazeera said in a press release Wednesday. The release quotes Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English.
“We are again disappointed that Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste, and Baher Mohamed were not released from prison today. The charges against our staff are without any substance and totally unjustified, we refute all the allegations labeled against our colleagues. Mohamed, Peter, and Baher are world-class journalists, and were simply doing the job of journalism covering and challenging all sides of the story in Egypt”. He added: “To continue to keep them behind bars after such a long time in detention is simply outrageous, so we continue to call for their immediate release. The trial in Egypt is a trial of journalism itself, so we remain resolute in calling for freedom of speech, for the right for people to know, and for the immediate release of all of Al Jazeera’s journalists in detention in Egypt”.
Patrick Kingsley reported for the Guardian Wednesday that the trial, in its second day, "descended into farce on Wednesday as the prosecution presented the entire contents of their raided hotel rooms as evidence, and one of the trio's 17 co-defendants said he did not understand what the trial was about."
The three journalists have been charged with aiding terrorism, Kingsley wrote, and spreading misinformation.
Fahmy, whose dislocated shoulder was further damaged in custody, and until this week left untreated by prison authorities, protested his innocence.
"I've been a journalist for 12 years," he shouted. "I covered the Syrian and Egyptian revolutions. No one ever said that I was dishonourable. It's impossible that I would ever betray my country."
On Feb. 27, Poynter wrote about journalists around the world joining a social media campaign calling for the release of Greste and his colleagues.
— Gabriel Elizondo (@elizondogabriel) February 27, 2014
Greste wrote about his detention from prison in late January.
I am nervous as I write this. I am in my cold prison cell after my first official exercise session – four glorious hours in the grass yard behind our block and I don’t want that right to be snatched away. I’ve been locked in my cell 24 hours a day for the past 10 days, allowed out only for visits to the prosecutor for questioning, so the chance for a walk in the weak winter sunshine is precious.
Greste, Mohamed and Fahmy were detained on Dec. 29 of last year. Al Jazeera writes in the press release that Al Jazeera Arabic’s Abdullah Al shamy has been detained since last April. He's been on a hunger strike for four weeks, the release states, and no charges have been filed.