Al-Jazeera television network logo
Al-Jazeera television network logo AFP file

An Egyptian court on Monday rejected a plea for bail by jailed Al Jazeera journalists, who denied links with the Muslim Brotherhood in a trial that has sparked international condemnation, AFP reports.

The journalists, who have spent nearly 100 days in jail since their arrest, are charged with spreading false news and supporting the Islamist movement of deposed president Mohammed Morsi.

"Please, get us out of jail, we are tired. We've been suffering in prison," Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, the Cairo bureau chief of Al-Jazeera English, was quoted as having told the judges.

He and his seven co-defendants, dressed in white prison uniforms, were briefly allowed out of the caged dock to address the court, in a rather unusual move.

The trial, in which 20 defendants stand accused, has sparked an international outcry and fuelled fears of a media crackdown by the military-installed authorities.

Australian reporter Peter Greste also pleaded to be released on bail, telling the judges "we only desire at this point to continue to fight to clear our names outside prison".

"We would like to emphasize that we are more than willing to accept any conditions that you impose on us," he added, according to AFP.

Producer Baher Mohamed said he wanted to be with his wife during her pregnancy.

"My wife is pregnant and she visits me in jail with the children. It is exhausting," he said.

"I want to be released on bail so I can be by her side," added Mohamed.

Al Jazeera, which is owned by the government of Qatar, has been called "the Muslim Brotherhood channel" and has been blamed for stirring up much of the violence that has rocked the Middle East in recent years and is often referred to as the “Arab Spring.” 

Several weeks ago, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, in protest over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in Egypt.

The gulf countries were critical of Qatar for providing a top radical Islamist, Yusuf Qaradawi, with a regular spot on Al Jazeera.

The arrests of the Al Jazeera journalists is part of the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt since Morsi’s ouster in July.

More than 1,400 people have died in street clashes since Morsi’s ouster, and thousands have been imprisoned. The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.

In addition, hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial and some already given death sentences, a move which was criticized by the international community.

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