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Egypt case against Al Jazeera staff slammed

Defence lawyers tell Cairo court that prosecution had failed to provide any evidence against detained journalists.

Last updated: 05 Jun 2014 19:29
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Al Jazeera's journalists have been held in a cage while the court is in session

Lawyers for three Al Jazeera journalists held in Egypt have called their trial a show and said prosecutors had failed to prove any of their reporting was biased or that they aided the Muslim Brotherhood.

The defence on Thursday continued its case for Baher Mohamed, Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy, after the prosecution demanded the maximum penalty against the accused. 

The defence told the court in Cairo that none of the prosecution witnesses could pinpoint a single video that was a threat to national security.

The prosecution has submitted as evidence items including a pop video by Gotye, a faked photograph, a BBC podcast and videos made outside of Egypt about an animal hospital.

The lawyers said their clients were part of a show trial manufactured to appease public opinion. 

Earlier in the session, the prosecution told the court that the three journalists had used "selective filming" to unfairly portray a protest in Tahrir Square on June 30, 2013.

None of the accused was in Egypt at the time.

'Bad light'

The prosecution also said that Al Jazeera's report on sexual assaults in Tahrir Square during mass protests last year was designed to show Egypt in a bad light.

The trial was adjourned until June 16. 

The journalists are being tried with 16 Egyptians accused of being members of the Brotherhood, which the state declared a "terrorist" group in January.

If found guilty, Egyptian nationals could get prison terms of 25 years while foreigners face 15 years in jail, the AFP news agency quoted defence lawyer Ibrahim Abdel Wahab as saying.

A fourth Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Elshamy, who works for the Arabic channel, has been jailed without charge since August, and has been on hunger strike since January.

Elshamy's family, who visited him in a maximum security prison on Wednesday, said that he had told them he had not eaten any food and that no food had entered his cell at any time.

A hearing to decide whether to release him has been postponed until June 11. Elshamy says he will not break his fast until he is free.

Al Jazeera strongly rejects the charges against all of its journalists and calls for their immediate release.

Osama Saeed, a spokesman for Al Jazeera, said: "Today’s summation by the defence shows again the weaknesses of the arguments made by the prosecution. The world knows that the three Al Jazeera staff who have been jailed were just doing their jobs.

"On the balance of arguments, it’s abundantly clear that Peter, Baher and Mohamed are not guilty of anything, and they should be set free." 

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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