‘Working as a journalist is not a crime’

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iol pic afr Al Jazeera Protest

Khartoum - About 100 Sudanese journalists and activists staged a silent vigil on Thursday in support of a global campaign to support Al-Jazeera television journalists detained in Egypt.

“Working as a journalist is not a crime,” said a banner held by the protesters who gathered on a street near the Qatar-based satellite channel's Khartoum office.

The channel's local staff were among the demonstrators, who carried pictures of the four detained Al-Jazeera staff including Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.

They have been held since December in a case that has sparked an international outcry.

Their trial began in a Cairo court last week, against the backdrop of strained ties between Cairo and Doha, which backed deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and his now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi was ousted by the army in July.

The government has designated the Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation”, although the group denies involvement in a spate of bombings since Morsi's overthrow.

The journalists are accused of supporting the Brotherhood and broadcasting false reports, charges denied by the television network.

A fourth Al-Jazeera journalist, Abdullah al-Shami, has been held since August.

Al-Jazeera declared Thursday a “global day of action” in support of its staff and for media freedom generally.

Unusually for a protest in Sudan, no police were seen near the Khartoum vigil, which dispersed peacefully after about an hour.

Sudanese reporters have previously demonstrated against a lack of freedom in their own country, which ranked near the bottom, at 170 out of 179, in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2013 World Press Freedom Index. - AFP

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