Journalists in Egypt plead not guilty to terrorist charges, trial postponed

Bloomberg | Al-Jazeera | BBC

A Cairo court on Thursday postponed the trial of Al-Jazeera journalists who are facing accusations of aiding Egyptians belonging to “a terrorist organization.”

Eight journalists including, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges that include aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and endangering national security.

The court rescheduled the trial for March 5.

Human rights groups have criticized the Egyptian government in this case for limiting the journalists’ freedom of expression.

Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator at the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, told Bloomberg:

“By putting journalists on trial, the regime is trying to send the message that those who are not going to follow the government narratives are going to be targeted. The trial has a chilling effect on local and international journalists, we’re seeing many of them expressing fears and feeling threatened and afraid to cover events in Egypt because of these cases.”

If found guilty, the journalists potentially face sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years.

News organizations have signed an open letter calling for the Egyptian government to release Peter Greste. Greste and two Al-Jazeera colleagues have been held in Egypt’s Tora prison since Dec. 29.

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