Al Jazeera journalists’ trial adjourned again

Correspondent Peter Greste, and producers Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have already spent 115 days in Egyptian jail.

The trial in Egypt of three Al Jazeera English journalists, accused of spreading news and belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, has been adjourned until May 3.

Correspondent Peter Greste and producers Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who have been imprisoned in Cairo for 115 days, were not granted bail at Tuesday’s hearing and are to remain in prison until the next hearing.

It was the sixth session of the trial heard in the Cairo court and was supposed to be the final opportunity for the prosecution to present evidence against the journalists.

Egyptian prosecutors submitted new evidence including audio tapes against the defendants although lawyers disputed their quality.

“If anyone understands the content, please inform us,” one of the lawyers told the judges.

One judge responded: “I can hear it from my side.”

But journalists reporting on the trial also talked of poor sound quality.

Covered in blankets

Prosecutors also submitted photographs of maps said to be of the area housing the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Cairo, a site of some pro-Morsi protests, and leaflets calling for protests.

Photographs also showed bodies on the ground covered in blankets.

At the trial’s last hearing, prosecutors had aired video footage and showed random photographs that were not linked to the case in which the authorities accused 20 defendants – including another six Al Jazeera staff who are being tried in absentia –  of Brotherhood links.

Trial of Al Jazeera’s journalists enters sixth session

Shahira Amin, a journalist from the Index on Censorship, an organisation that promotes free speech, told Al Jazeera it was difficult for journalists to get information about the hearing as they were ordered to leave.

“All journalists were ordered to leave by the judge and that’s because during the recess, the break in the court session, journalists were asking the defendants questions, talking to them,” Amin said.

“This has happened in every single trial session before, so we didn’t quite understand why it was different this time round that we weren’t allowed to have access to the defendants and talk to them. Also because some of the journalists were taking photographs…we had repeatedly been told not to photograph them in the cage.

“The video clips shown in the court today were just standard TV footage that any journalist would have shot,” she said.

Al Jazeera strongly rejects all the charges and has called for the immediate release of its staff.

Abdullah Elshamy, a fourth Al Jazeera journalist in detention who works for the company’s Arabic arm, has been held in Egypt for more than six months and has been on hunger strike since January 21. His detention was extended by 45 days on March 13.

Another Al Jazeera journalist, Mohamed Badr, was arrested on July 15 and released on February 5, when he was acquitted of a series of charges including being involved in the protests in Cairo’s Ramses Square.

More than 40,000 people have been actively involved in the campaign for the release of the journalists, with events held in more than 30 countries and in every continent.

There have been more than 800 million impressions of #FreeAJStaff on Twitter and there have been repeated calls from governments, international institutions and media organisations for an end to the imprisonment of the journalists.

The US, the UK and the European Union have all called for the release of Al Jazeera’s staff imprisoned in Egypt.