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Egypt trial of jailed Al Jazeera journalists adjourned to May 15

By Sarah Sirgany and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Sat May 3, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Journalists were arrested on December 29 at a Cairo hotel
  • The three are being held on terrorism-related charges
  • The trial has drawn international condemnation from human rights groups
  • Saturday's hearing coincided with World Press Freedom Day

Cairo (CNN) -- The trial of three Al Jazeera journalists held on terrorism-related charges in Egypt was adjourned to May 15 after a brief appearance in the Cairo court on Saturday.

Correspondent Peter Greste, producer Mohammed Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed have been in jail since December 29. Their request for bail has been denied.

The three were arrested 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 accused have denied the allegations against them, saying they were simply doing their jobs.

Their case has drawn widespread international condemnation from human rights groups. Saturday's hearing coincided with World Press Freedom Day.

"I would like to remind you that today is the international day for freedom of press. The world's eyes are on us," Fahmy said.

"I hope the court is merciful with us."

'We want to get out'

Addressing the court, Fahmy described the nature of journalism work. He added the journalists were "tired in prison."

"We want to get out. We want to get out before the elections," he said.

When the judge asked if the detained team wanted to cover the May 26-27 presidential elections, Fahmy replied: "No, we don't want to cover election, just to get out."

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 Mohamed Morsy, Egypt's first democratically elected president, in July. Morsy, of the Islamist movement, was ousted after mass protests against his rule.

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

The Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Egypt as the third deadliest country for journalists in 2013. Reporters Without Borders said 80 journalists were arrested from July to September last year.

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