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March 6, 2014

Ordeal for jailed Al Jazeera journalists continues as Egypt trial adjourned to 24 March

By Ayub Nouinou

The trial of three Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt has been adjourned until 24 March, according to Al Jazeera.

Former CNN journalist Mohamed Fahmy, the Australian former BBC correspondent Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed facecharges of helping the Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false information.

Al Jazeera has rejected the charges against its journalists and continues to plead for their release.

Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English, released the following statement: “We are again disappointed that Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were not released from prison today. The charges against our staff are without any substance and totally unjustified. We refute all the allegations labeled against our colleagues.

"Mohamed, Peter and Baher are world-class journalists, and were simply doing the job of journalism covering and challenging all sides of the story in Egypt. To continue to keep them behind bars after such a long time in detention is simply outrageous, so we continue to call for their immediate release," he added.

All three reporters have been detained for over two months since they were arrested at their hotel in Cairo on 29 December.

They appeared in court for the second time on Wednesday when witnesses for the prosecution were heard.

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Abdullah al-Shami, an Al-Jazeera journalist working for its Arabic channel, has been held for more than six months without being charged and he has been on a hunger strike since 23 January.

Fahmy told the court that his right shoulder "has been broken for ten weeks and I sleep on the floor" in a prison cell.

Journalists across the world have protested against the case stressing the need for press freedom and Al Jazeera America has launched  a global social media campaign under the slogan #FreeAJStaff.

Freedom of speech in Egypt has been the subject of growing international concern after the Egyptian government adopted tough sanctions against journalists reporting in the country. Egypt was ranked as the third-deadliest destination for journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2013.

In February, White House press secretary Jay Carney spoke against the decision to arrest the journalists, he said: “We have expressed concerns about the detainment and trial of Al Jazeera staff and journalists, as well as others, and we have expressed those concerns directly to the government of Egypt.

"We have strongly urged the government to drop these charges and release those journalists who have been detained."

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