Three Al Jazeera English journalists detained in Egypt over a week ago on accusations of terrorism were set to face a new round of questioning on Sunday.
Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and correspondent Peter Greste were waiting to be interrogated by the prosecutor on Sunday afternoon, while producer Baher Mohamed was questioned on Saturday and is scheduled to be questioned again on Wednesday.
The trio has faced repeated questioning, while Greste has appeared in front of the prosecutor on two separate occasions.
No official charges against the three have been filed.
Al Jazeera correspondent Bernard Smith, who has extensive experience in Cairo, told the Daily News Egypt that the broadcaster has provided legal representation for the accused journalists, but no progress on securing their release has been made.
“We’re hoping every time they see the prosecutor that he decides there’s no case to answer —we don’t believe there is a case — and lets them go,” said Smith.
Mohamed has been held in police detention in Cairo’s Tora prison. Fahmy, who was also in Tora, has been transferred to a prison medical facility to be treated for a serious shoulder injury he sustained before his arrest.
Al Jazeera has continually maintained the innocence of its journalists, who face accusations of, “Joining a terrorist organisation, publishing false news harming national security, terrorising people and harming the people’s general benefit, as well as possessing broadcast equipment without a licence.”.
“[Al Jazeera] is becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of its staff members as the detentions continue,” wrote the broadcaster on its Web site.
Doha-based Al-Jazeera, seen by many Egyptians as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, has been no stranger to government sanctions since Mohamed Morsi’s 3 July ouster at the hands of the military, including arrests, confiscations and raids on their offices.
“Al Jazeera was seen during the [25 January 2011] revolution in Egypt, now three years ago, as certainly being instrumental—certainly helping that revolution along. That’s how it was portrayed at the time,” Smith said during an Al Jazeera broadcast on Sunday.
“We have the anniversary of that revolution coming up, and we have a military government that is taking increasingly draconian steps to try and stabilise the country. We think Al Jazeera is being lashed out against because of the continuing coverage we’ve tried to give to all sides in that country.”
On 29 December Fahmy and Greste were arrested at the Marriott Hotel in Zamalek where they were using two suites as a temporary base of operations. Security forces confiscated broadcasting and production equipment along with literature supporting a Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored student strike. The Interior Ministry has claimed that the rooms were used to host meetings with the Brotherhood.
Baher was arrested shortly thereafter from his home in the Cairo suburb of 6th October.
The trio’s arrest and subsequent detention has been the subject of condemnation by rights groups around the world who have accused the Egyptian government of quieting its critics.
The prosecutor’s office could not be reached for comment.