DOHA: Three Al Jazeera English journalists will remain behind bars until the next hearing on April 22 despite lack of evidence in court in Cairo, Al Jazeera press office said in a statement yesterday.
The fifth hearing was halted after the prosecution screened videos it says support its case against Al Jazeera team. But reports show Peter Greste reporting in Kenya and extracts of his award-winning BBC documentary on Somalia. The court also saw a report from Sky News Arabia on tourism in Luxor. Defence lawyers argued none of the videos had any connection to the case and called for the journalists’ release. But the judge refused to drop charges and scheduled the next hearing for April 22. Al Anstey, Managing Director, Al Jazeera English, said, “Every time the case comes back to court, the world sees just how absurd the allegations against our team really are. Mohammed, Baher, and Peter are first-class journalists. They were doing their job, covering and challenging all sides of the story in Egypt. They should be released immediately.
“Over 45,000 people have been involved in a worldwide campaign for the release of our three staff, and Al Jazeera Arabic’s Abdullah El Shamy, which has resulted in over one billion impressions on social media.”
Al Jazeera has also had support of media organisations worldwide, including the BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, Sky New, Channel Seven and ABC in Australia, Reuters, and the Associated Press and many other broadcasters and news outlets.
Media freedom groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, International Press Institute, and International News Safety Group have shown solidarity, calling for the release of Al Jazeera staff.
Al Jazeera has also received statements of support from the UN, the White House, British Foreign Office and European Union.
It is concerned about the health of Elshamy, who has been on a hunger strike for 80 days. He is a reporter for Al Jazeera Arabic, and has no charges filed since August 14, 2013, while Baher, Mohammed Fahmy and Greste have been detained since December 29 last year.