Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste’s appeal 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 have been charged.
Media reports on Wednesday, citing a statement from the prosecutor’s office, said 16 Egyptians would face trial for membership of “a terrrorist organisation” and that four foreigners, identified as Al Jazeera journalists, would be charged with aiding their activities.
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.
Al Jazeera said it had no knowledge of other people reportedly being pursued by the authorities and that the network currently has no journalists reporting from the country.
Its five detained journalists have received no official notification of any developments in their cases, Al Jazeera added.
“The world knows these allegations against our journalists are absurd, baseless and false,” a spokesman for the media network said.
“This is a challenge to free speech, to the right of journalists to report on all aspects of events, and to the right of people to know what is going on.”
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 three journalists are accused of spreading lies harmful to state security and joining a terrorist organisation.
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.
“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 newsgathering at Al Jazeera English, told reporters.
Sam Kiley of Sky News, Jonathan Baker of the BBC College of Journalism, and Peter Oborne from the Daily Telegraph also sat on the panel to support the 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.
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.
|Fred Scott, a friend and former colleague of Greste, and Peter Oborne from the Daily Telegraph speak during the news conference|
“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 organisations 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.