International

Egypt court denies Al Jazeera journalist’s appeal

Peter Greste, held along with colleagues without charges for a month, loses an appeal against his detention

Al Jazeera journalists, from left, Baher Mohamed, left, Peter Greste, cetner, and Mohammed Fahmy, right

An appeal by Al Jazeera's Peter Greste against his ongoing detention without charge has been denied in a Cairo court. Greste and four other Al Jazeera Media Network employees remain in detention in the Egyptian capital. None of them has been charged.

Earlier on Wednesday, Al Jazeera English, for whom Greste is a correspondent, held a news conference in London calling on Egyptian authorities to immediately release the five journalists.

The event was held exactly one month after Greste and producers Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were detained in Cairo while on assignment for Al Jazeera English on Dec. 29, 2013.

Two journalists from sister channels Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr — Abdullah Al Shami and Mohamed Bader — have been in detention for five months.

The three Al Jazeera English journalists have been accused of “spreading lies harmful to state security” and “joining a terrorist organization,” although Al Jazeera Media Network has rejected those allegations and has expressed outrage at the continued detention without charge of its journalists.

"We were doing nothing more than our jobs there that any one of our colleagues would be doing in Egypt at the moment," Heather Allan, head of news gathering at Al Jazeera English, told reporters.

"(Al Jazeera has) operated in Egypt now for 15 years. (Al Jazeera Arabic is) the most popular Arab channel by far across the Middle East and North Africa," she said.

"We (Al Jazeera English) have operated there for seven years. We have covered it all. I believe we've done a very good and unbiased job of it."

An Al Jazeera spokesman said the allegations are part of a broader attack on free speech in the country.

“We will continue to pursue all avenues to get our journalists back, and are grateful for all the support we have received. It is clear this is not just Al Jazeera’s campaign, but one taken on by all freedom-loving people around the world.”

Tim Marshall of Sky News, Jonathan Baker of the BBC College of Journalism and Peter Oborne from the Daily Telegraph joined the panel at the news conference to support the detained journalists. 

Greste’s parents, Lois and Jurius, joined via video conference from their home in Brisbane, Australia.

"We’re here to say to the Egyptian government that we’re never going to forget they’re there. We're always going to be campaigning to get them out," Oborne said.

International support

Last week, Greste wrote letters from Tora Prison, one of which described the difficult conditions that his colleagues were being held in, and what he sees as a lack of press freedom in Egypt.

"The state will not tolerate hearing from the Muslim Brotherhood or any other critical voices," he wrote. "The prisons are overflowing with anyone who opposes or challenges the government." 

Scores of journalists worldwide, along with organizations involved in media freedom, have joined the call for the journalists' release, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the International News Safety Institute. 

The secretary-general of Amnesty International on Tuesday condemned the detention of the five journalists, calling it part of a broader crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.

Al Jazeera

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