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Jailed Al Jazeera journalists denied bail, deny Muslim Brotherhood links

By Ian Lee, Heba Fahmy and Jason Hanna, CNN
updated 4:28 PM EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Journalists were arrested December 29 at a Cairo hotel
  • The three are being held on terrorism-related charges
  • They deny charges, saying they were simply doing their jobs
  • The trial has drawn international condemnation from human rights groups

Cairo (CNN) -- An Egyptian court on Monday again denied bail to three Al Jazeera journalists who are jailed on terrorism-related charges in a case that has drawn international condemnation from human rights groups.

Correspondent Peter Greste, producer Mohamed Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed were allowed outside a caged dock to address the court in a hearing Monday, each taking the opportunity to deny allegations that they were affiliated with the banned Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood.

The three were arrested December 29 at a Cairo hotel room and later charged with joining what the government says is a terrorist group -- the Muslim Brotherhood -- as well as broadcasting false information and working in Egypt without permits.

The Egyptian government says they distorted their coverage in favor of ousted President Mohamed Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood. The accused have denied the allegations against them, saying they were simply doing their jobs.

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Fahmy told the court that he and his colleagues worked in public rather than in secrecy, and covered Egypt as they would other countries. He questioned how any journalist could be labeled a terrorist.

Their lawyers also took up the issue of Fahmy's health. Fahmy, a former CNN producer, injured his shoulder before his arrest in December while working as bureau chief for Al Jazeera English in Cairo.

He has complained about not getting proper medical treatment while in prison and says that because of the lack of treatment, he no longer has full use of his right arm.

On Monday, the defense team asked that Fahmy have his shoulder operated on at a hospital. Earlier this month -- nearly three months after his arrest -- he was taken to a civilian hospital for the first time for a shoulder scan.

Baher told the court Monday that his wife was in the final stages of pregnancy and he wanted to see his child when he was born. Greste said that he and his colleagues posed no threat or danger inside the country or outside.

Human rights groups have criticized the trial, saying the arrests indicate authorities in Egypt are stifling dissent and freedom of the press.

The case comes amid a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood after the military's overthrow of Morsy, Egypt's first democratically elected president, in July. Morsy, who had been a Muslim Brotherhood leader, was ousted after mass protests against his rule.

Morsy was elected in 2012, a year after a popular uprising ended Hosni Mubarak's three decades of one-man rule.

During Monday's hearing the court, as it has previously, denied the journalists' request for bail. The trial was adjourned until April 10.

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Journalists Ian Lee and Heba Fahmy reported from Cairo. CNN's Jason Hanna wrote from Atlanta.

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