'Journalism Itself' on Trial in Egypt

Three Al Jazeera journalists faced with terrorism charges pleaded not guilty in a Cairo court on Thursday in a case that has been described as a “trial of journalism itself.”

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The trial for the three has been adjourned until March 5.

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were seized in December, and are among 20 journalists on trial, 9 of whom work for the Qatar-based news agency, according to Al Jazeera.  Prosecutors accuse the three of “spreading lies harmful to state security” and “joining a terrorist organization.” Yet Heather Allan, head of news gathering at Al Jazeera English, previously explained, “We were doing nothing more than our jobs there that any one of our colleagues would be doing in Egypt at the moment.”

Independent journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous explained that “They’re the first terrorism-related charges being brought against journalists, and they are being… brought after the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organization by the government last month.”

The charges could bring prison sentences of five to 15 years.

“The charges against our staff are baseless, unacceptable and wholly unjustified,” said Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English.