Trial of Al Jazeera staff resumes in Cairo

Prosecutors give their closing arguments in trial of three members of the TV network accused of spreading false news.

Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohammed Fahmy have been imprisoned since December [AFP]

The trial of three Al Jazeera English staff held for more than five months in Egypt has resumed in Cairo, with prosecutors giving their closing arguments in the case.

Baher Mohamed, Peter Greste and Mohammed Fahmy have been imprisoned since December on charges of broadcasting false news and providing a platform to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Al Jazeera strongly rejects the charges and has called for their immediate release.

After prosecutors have finished presenting their case, defence lawyers for the journalists will begin giving their arguments.

Thurday’s meeting will be the 11th time the three have appeared before in court in the capital.

On Sunday, prosecution witnesses, who were employees for Egyptian state TV, were unable to say whether they believed the journalists had endangered Egypt’s national security or if the equipment they were using was unlicensed.

Their statements contradicted previous written testimony they had given to authorities and which was central to the prosecution’s case.

In previous hearings, evidence presented against Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed, included recordings of a song by Australian singer, Gotye, and reports by other news outlets, such as Sky News Arabia and the BBC.

Another journalist for Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel, Abdullah Elshamy, has been held without charge since August last year.

The correspondent, who was arrested after the bloody dispersal of protesters at the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in, has been refusing food for more than four months.

A picture leaked by Egypt’s interior ministry on May 21 purported to show him holding food to his mouth and appearing to drink from a carton of milk. 

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

A hearing to decide whether to release the journalist has been postponed until June 11. Elshamy said he will not break his fast until he is freed.

Egypt’s detention of Al Jazeera’s staff has attracted criticism from advocacy groups, journalists and politicians around the world.

A social media campaign calling for their release went viral on Twitter and media personalities like Christiane Amanpour and Larry King have posted messages calling for the release of the journalists.

Source: Al Jazeera