Three Al-Jazeera journalists, including Australian Peter Greste, have been pictured caged like animals for a courtroom appearance in Cairo.
“Journalists are not terrorists,” Al-Jazeera’s Egypt bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy shouted from his cage as he was led into court overnight.
Those arrested include Fahmy, Australian award-winning correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed. All have pleaded not guilty. Others are being tried in absentia.
The reporters are accused of being terrorists amid claims by Egypt’s interim government that they were supporting the deposed Muslim Brotherhood (now designated a terrorist organisation).
All are charged with joining a terrorist group, aiding a terrorist group, and endangering national security.
The court appearance comes amid fresh hopes that Peter Greste will be released. Latvian foreign ministry spokesman Karlis Eihenbaums has told Fairfax media “We expect his immediate release as he has committed no crime”.
Mohamed Fahmy, Al-Jazeera English’s acting Egypt bureau chief, addressed the court, saying he works as a journalist and is from a conservative and patriotic family in Port Said.
He told the court last night that he could “never possibly betray his country” testifying in a case accusing him and other colleagues of being terrorists.