Al Jazeera marks 300 days of staff jailing

Network marks grim milestone for its journalists jailed in Egypt by observing 300 seconds of silence on air.

Al Jazeera has marked the 300 days three of the network’s reporters have been jailed in Egypt with 300 seconds of silence on air.

Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste were arrested in Cairo on December 29, 2013 under false charges of aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news.

Al Jazeera aired a 300-second montage that looks at the key dates since their arrest, subsequent trial, sentencing and global reactions.

In June, Greste, an Australian, and Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian, received seven-year jail terms, while Mohamed, an Egyptian, was sentenced to 10 years, in a case that sparked international outrage.

Jehan Rashed, Baher Mohamed’s wife, describes her struggle

An Egyptian court will be convening on January 1 to see whether the appeals against their convictions are considered.

The hearing will look at the process behind the original trial, a process that Al Jazeera has always maintained was flawed, and is the basis of the appeal. The network hopes the three will be set free, though a retrial could also be ordered.

Greste’s parents ‘optimistic’

The parents of Australian correspondent Greste have once again spoken of their hope that along with Mohamed and Baher, he will be released.

Juris and Lois Greste told Al Jazeera that for the past 300 days their life had been overtaken by the commitment to see that their son would be freed.

Juris Greste said: “We really haven’t had another life this year. It has been campaigning from morning until night from Friday to next Friday.”

Both parents have visited Peter in Egypt after he, along with his colleagues – Egyptian-Canadian Fahmy and Egyptian Mohamed, were convicted in June of aiding terrorism and spreading false news that portrayed Egypt as being in a state of “civil war,” charges that Al Jazeera has rejected from the outset.

On August 28 this year, Baher Mohamed missed the birth of his baby boy. His wife told Al Jazeera that she face an enormous struggle while trying to visit her husband in prison.

“During the visitation we are surrounded by guards; we do not even have the liberty to talk,” she said. 

“Although [our children] are young, they are very much attached to their father. They keep crying during the visits, asking him to come home with us. They are too young to understand; they are told their father is on a mission and cannot go home.”

Calls for the release of the Al Jazeera staff have previously been made by the White House, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the European Union, the Australian government and more than 150 rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute.

More than 200,000 people have signed petitions globally, including two petitions signed by 150,000 people presented to the Egyptian Vice Counsel in Sydney by Australia’s leading journalists.

Public calls of support for the release of the journalists have occurred throughout the social media campaign #FreeAJStaff, with more than 137,000 people sharing their support on Twitter, reaching 112 million people and delivering more than two billion impressions.

Source: Al Jazeera