Discuss as:

News organizations call for release of journalists detained in Egypt

Members of more than 50 news organizations appealed on Monday to the Egyptian government for the release of three journalists who have been detained in the restive country since the end of December.

“The arrest of these journalists has cast a cloud over press and media freedom in Egypt,” read a letter that was signed by correspondents from The New York Times, The Associated Press, NBC News and 53 other news organizations spanning the globe.

Al Jazeera journalists Mohammed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were taken from a hotel room in Cairo on Dec. 29, following an Egyptian government raid of the Al Jazeera's offices.

Al Jazeera cameraman Mohamed Fawzy was also arrested at the time but was later released.

In a statement, the The Ministry of Interior of Egypt said the government detained the four men during a probe of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Ministry deemed a "terrorist organization." In the statement, the Ministry said Al Jazeera television broadcasts were harming national security.

The letter pleading for their release expressed concern that the men might face charges affiliated with the Ministry’s accusations.

According to the Al Jazeera, the Egyptian state prosecutor said on Jan. 8 that the detainees would serve 15 more days in custody.

The letter said the "well respected journalists" were "arbitrarily imprisoned."

The letter was sent to Egypt's State Information Service, which said in a meeting that it had been passed to the Foreign Ministry, The Associated Press reported.

"We also call for the release of other journalists who have been detained in Egypt, some of whom have been arbitrarily imprisoned for over five months," the letter continued.

Al Jazeera correspondent, Abdullah Al Shami has been in custody since Aug. 14 and photographer, Mohamed Badr has been detained since July 16, according to the Qatar-based news network.

"This is all part of a larger antagonistic campaign against us," Ghassan Abu Hussein, Al Jazeera Media Network official spokesperson, said in December.

Related:

Egypt Arrests Al Jazeera's 4-member crew