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Egypt trial of Al Jazeera journalists adjourned to May 22

By Sarah Sirgany and Reza Sayah, CNN
updated 1:31 AM EDT, Fri May 16, 2014
File photo: Australian journalist Peter Greste (C) of Al Jazeera and his colleagues stand inside the defendants cage during their trial for allegedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
File photo: Australian journalist Peter Greste (C) of Al Jazeera and his colleagues stand inside the defendants cage during their trial for allegedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Two lawyers quit the case, claim Al Jazeera wants to tarnish Egypt's image
  • Trial of Al Jazeera journalists on terrorism-related charges is adjourned to May 22
  • Court told the prosecution wants defense lawyers to pay $169,000 to see evidence
  • The defendants deny the charges against them, say they were doing their jobs

Cairo (CNN) -- The trial in Egypt of Al Jazeera journalists accused of terrorism-related offenses was adjourned Thursday until May 22.

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 are 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.

In Egypt, case of trial by error
Journalists' support 'keeps Greste going'

The journalists -- who are among a number of people arrested, not all of them Al Jazeera staff -- have denied the allegations against them, saying they were simply doing their jobs.

The lawyer for Fahmy told the Cairo court that the prosecution had asked the defense lawyers to pay 1.2 million Egyptian pounds ($169,000) to see five CDs containing alleged evidence against their clients -- but refused to give them an official document indicating such request.

"The actual cost of copying five CDs doesn't exceed 5 Egyptian pounds," lawyer Khaled Abu Bakr told the court. He told CNN that he has never come across such exorbitant fees.

The judge ordered the prosecution to provide a document stipulating the fees.

Apart from Abu Bakr, all the defense lawyers and defendants want final arguments to begin.

Fahmy, who is a former CNN producer, told reporters that the prosecution is already stalling and won't present the evidence purported to be on the CDs.

Other defendants in the case, not including the three Al Jazeera journalists, told reporters they had been beaten and intimidated in prison after the last court hearing, when they complained to journalists of torture and abuse.

One of the defendants, Anas El Beltagy, son of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El Beltagy, said he had been put in solitary confinement.

Another, Khaled Abdel Raouf, who has been on hunger strike for 55 days, said he had had no access to medical care.

The two lawyers representing Greste and Baher Mohamed quit the case Thursday, claiming in court that Al Jazeera was not concerned about the defendants and only wanted to tarnish Egypt's image.

The lawyers were hired by Al Jazeera to represent the two journalists.

Assem Ghorob, Mohamed's brother, told CNN that Al Jazeera has given assurances that the network will hire new lawyers for the case.

"It was weird what happened in court today," Ghorob said. "I'm fine with getting new lawyers but I'm surprised the lawyers who quit criticized Al Jazeera in court. That could obviously hurt the case."

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

Al Jazeera is a large TV news broadcaster and digital outlet with headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

At Al Jazeera trial in Egypt, video of sheep herding and an adjournment

Jailed journalists denied bail, deny Muslim Brotherhood links

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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