International leaders and public figures are demanding the release of Peter Greste.
The Australian journalist is among a number of Al-Jazeera media arrested in Egypt last year for “airing of false news” and “conspiring with terrorists”.
Egyptian authorities announced on Tuesday that Greste along with a group of his Al-Jazeera colleagues will face trial on February 20.
Greste could be jailed for up to seven years if convicted.
Concerned journalists and civilians alike gathered outside the Egyptian Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, last week to protest against the reporters’ imprisonment.
“No rest till we see Greste”, “Being a journalist is not a crime” and “Journalism is not terrorism” were some of the messages on display. The journalist is well known in Kenya as the East Africa correspondent for Al-Jazeera.
In an online campaign #FreeAJstaff, supporters tweeted pictures of themselves with tape over their mouths.
US President Barack Obama backs the campaign. “The restrictions on freedom of expression in Egypt are a concern, and that includes the targeting of Egyptian and foreign journalists and academics simply for expressing their views,” the president’s spokesman, Jay Carney, said.
Australia’s Greens leader, Christine Milne, has urged the Prime Minister to stand up for the imprisoned journalist.
“I’m calling on Tony Abbott to make representations immediately on behalf of Australian journalist Peter Greste who is being held in Egypt for no other reason than doing his job as a journalist,” Milne said in a press conference last month. Abbott is yet to comment.
Al-Jazeera’s managing director, Al Anstey, has denounced Egypt’s action. “It is outrageous to be treating bone fide journalists in this way,” he said. “The allegations that are being made are totally false and unfounded. We operate in Egypt legally.”
Top photo of muzzled Al-Jazeera reporters from James Bay’s Twitter.