A raft of international news organisations has called on Egypt to free Australian journalist Peter Greste who is being held in a Cairo prison.
Mr Greste was arrested on December 29 and is due to face trial on Thursday, accused of backing the black-listed Muslim Brotherhood and portraying Egypt in a state of civil war.
In an open letter to Egyptian authorities, the BBC, Reuters, Sky, NBC News, ABC News and ITN call for the Al-Jazeera journalist’s release.
“A hard-working, honourable journalist, with a track record of achievement, has been put in jail, awaiting trial, for honestly practising his trade,” the letter says.
“So we would like to add our voices to those that have called for his release, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.”
The international news organisations condemned Egyptian authorities for jailing 20 journalists, including 48-year-old Mr Greste, for allegedly belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation or “spreading false news”.
“We think the Egyptian authorities are profoundly mistaken in their actions,” the letter says.
“Whatever the local conditions, a fundamental principle of any country should be freedom of speech.
“So we think Egypt’s move is deeply damaging to the future of impartial journalism in the country and that its actions are unjust, and unacceptable.”
Since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military in July, Egypt’s interim government has been incensed by Al-Jazeera television’s coverage of a deadly crackdown against the Brotherhood to which the deposed Islamist belongs.
On December 25, the government added the Brotherhood to its list of terrorist organisations.
Prosecutors have accused the Al-Jazeera news crew of portraying Egypt in a state of “civil war” and “airing false news”.
Al-Jazeera has been leading an international campaign demanding the release Mr Greste and eight other network staff, and has denied all charges against them.
If convicted, Mr Greste could be jailed for up to seven years.