London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The hashtag #FreeAJStaff was trending on Twitter on Wednesday following the launch of an online campaign calling for the Egyptian authorities to release Al-Jazeera English journalists Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste on December 29, 2013.
The three were referred to criminal court on January 29 and face charges of harming national security, airing false news and working without permits, and “aiding” a terrorist group, identified by authorities as the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
The US on Tuesday called on the military-backed interim government to free the three detained journalists. White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “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.”
“These figures, regardless of affiliation, should be protected and permitted to do their jobs freely in Egypt,” he added.
The family of Al-Jazeera Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy confirmed that the trio had been moved to a lower-security wing of Egypt’s infamous Tora Prison on Wednesday. A tweet on Fahmy’s Twitter account, which is being operated by his family, said: “It is confirmed that Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed are now in a lower security prison held together in the same cell.” A second tweet read: “Also confirmed that the conditions that they are being held in are now much better than before. Definitely a result of foreign media pressure.”
Local media confirmed that the three detained journalists had been transferred to Tora Prison’s Molha’a El-Mazra’a wing, usually reserved for high-profile detainees. Past inmates include former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa.
The news of the move follows the launch of the #FreeAJStaff online campaign. The campaign has seen journalists and online activists across the world posting photos of themselves with their mouths taped shut holding signs calling for the release of Fahmy, Mohamed and Greste. Prominent journalists who have taken part in the campaign—whether tweeting calls for the journalists to be released or posting photos—include British news presenter Jon Snow, Doha Brookings Director Salman Shaikh and CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour.