Egyptian-Canadian reporter jailed in Cairo denied bail again

Qatar-owned broadcaster's English channel Al-Jazeera Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy (L) speaks to Egyptian judge Mohamed Nagy Shehata (R) after being allowed to leave the defendant cage during the trial of 20 individuals, including five Al-Jazeera journalists, for allegedly defaming the country and ties to the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood on May 3, 2014 in the police institute near Cairo's Turah prison. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED .

CAIRO, Egypt – A Canadian-Egyptian journalist held in Egypt made a rare appeal Saturday as the judge trying him and his colleagues wished them a “happy” World Press Freedom Day before ordering them back to jail.

Mohamed Fahmy, who works for the satellite news broadcaster Al-Jazeera English, stood before Judge Mohamed Nagi Shehata and explained that journalists have to speak to all sides to do their jobs.

But the judge again denied the journalists bail and set their next hearing for May 15.

READ MORE: Egyptian-Canadian journalist jailed in Cairo wins freedom award

Fahmy, along with Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, all face charges of being part of a terrorist group and airing falsified footage intended to damage Egyptian national security.

Doha-based Al-Jazeera and the journalists have denied the allegations.

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Their arrest comes as part of a greater crackdown on the press and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi hails.

The journalists face trial on the charges with 17 others. Al-Jazeera Arabic service journalist Abdullah Elshamy has been held without charges since August after being arrested separately.

In his brief appeal, Fahmy said he had good contacts in the Egyptian army, the police and the intelligence services. Fahmy later told journalists covering the hearing that he mentioned that because of prosecutors previously showing a picture of Fahmy standing by Morsi. He said there were pictures of him with other veteran politicians that the court did not show.

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Fahmy also asked the judge to release them before Egypt’s upcoming May presidential election. When the judge asked Fahmy if he wanted to cover the vote, Fahmy simply said he wanted to get out of prison.

In a shouted exchange between journalists covering the hearing and the defendants, Fahmy said that he had not seen his legal team in two weeks and had not had a chance to review the evidence against him with his lawyer.

Greste added that there was “no evidence” against the three and that they were “very frustrated with the system.”

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In previous hearings, prosecutors offered video clips found with the journalists about an animal hospital with donkeys and horses, and another about Christian life in Egypt as evidence of their crimes. Defence lawyers and even the judge dismissed the footage as irrelevant.

A worldwide campaign has protested the detention of journalists in Egypt. In a letter sent to Egyptian President Adly Mansour in January, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on the government to release all detained journalists. The committee said at the time at least five journalists had been killed, 45 assaulted, 44 detained and 11 news outlets raided in Egypt since Morsi’s overthrow.

As the Al-Jazeera journalists left the hearing, they chanted “Happy World Press Freedom Day,” which is celebrated Saturday. Their colleagues covering the hearing shouted back words of encouragement.

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