Egypt prosecutors demand 'maximum' jail term for Jazeera reporters

Protesters rally in support of Al Jazeera journalists Abdullah al-Shami and Mohammed Sultan, who were detained by Egyptian authorities, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, June 1, 2014. REUTERS Photo

Egyptian prosecutors on Thursday demanded the "maximum" penalty, ranging from 15 to 25 years in jail, for all 20 defendants in the trial of Al-Jazeera journalists accused of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.
Australian journalist Peter Greste and two other detained reporters with Qatar-based Al-Jazeera English are among the accused, in a trial that has triggered international outrage amid growing fears of media restrictions in Egypt.
"We request that the court, without compassion or mercy, apply the maximum penalty for the abominable crimes they have committed ... mercy for such (people) will bring the entire society close to darkness," prosecutor Mohamed Barakat told the court.
The prosecution has charged the 16 Egyptian defendants with joining the Muslim Brotherhood, designated as a "terrorist group."       

The four foreign defendants in the case, including Greste, are charged with "spreading false news", collaborating and assisting the Egyptian defendants in their crimes by providing media material, editing it and publishing it on the Internet and Al-Jazeera.
Nine of the 20 defendants are in detention, while others are being tried in absentia, including three foreign reporters who are abroad.
The 16 Egyptians could get prison terms of 25 years, while the four foreigners could be jailed for 15 years, according to defence lawyer Ibrahim Abdel Wahab.
The trial is part of a relentless crackdown by the authorities installed by former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who won last week's presidential election, against the Muslim Brotherhood since he ousted president Mohamed Morsi last July.
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