Al Jazeera has denied that its journalists detained in Egypt since December 29, 2013, have confessed to the charges levelled against them.
Egypt’s prosecutor’s office said on Thursday that some of the journalists – producers Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, and correspondent Peter Greste – confessed to being members of the Muslim Brotherhood, without specifying who.
Muslim Brotherhood was designated as a terrorist organisation by Egypt’s military-led interim government after its leader Mohamed Morsi was deposed on July 3 in a coup.
A spokesman for the Doha-based Al Jazeera Media Network rejected the prosecutor’s claim, saying: “The prosecutor’s measure of issuing a statement like this is unusual, as it looks like a prejudgement on an ongoing investigation. Claims that anyone has ‘confessed’ are rejected by our journalists and legal team,” he said.
The statement from the chief prosecutor’s office stated that the journalists were being interrogated on suspicion of having unlicensed equipment and broadcasting false news that harmed national security.
Formal charges against the three, who were taken into custody on December 29, have not yet been filed as the investigation is ongoing.
“The accusations against our journalists do not stand up to scrutiny. Our detained team had been working in Cairo for some time and people can still watch their work online. It was all of the highest journalistic standards and integrity, as has been all our output since the start of the momentous events in Egypt three years ago,” Saeed said.
The detainment of the journalists has raised an international outcry.
“We have been overwhelmed by the global calls for our journalists to be released, and the Egyptian authorities would be well advised to take heed,” the Al Jazeera spokesperson said.
Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed were remanded to 15 more days in custody on January 8, according to the state prosecutor.
They were initially arrested along with cameraman Mohamed Fawzy, who was later released.
Al Jazeera Arabic’s Abdullah Al Shami and Al Jazeera Mubashar Misr cameraman Mohammed Badr also remain in Egyptian custody for more than five months.
The network is demanding the freedom of all its staff jailed in Egypt.