Middle East

Egypt begins trial for head of journalists union, 2 members

  • Yahia Kalash, the head of the journalists' union, is surrounded by cameramen as he arrives at Cairo south court in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, June 4, 2016. The head of Egypt's journalists union and two of its board members are on trail over allegations that they harbored journalists wanted by authorities and spread false news. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    Yahia Kalash, the head of the journalists' union, is surrounded by cameramen as he arrives at Cairo south court in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, June 4, 2016. The head of Egypt's journalists union and two of its board members are on trail over allegations that they harbored journalists wanted by authorities and spread false news. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)  (The Associated Press)

  • Khaled El-Balshy, Head of Journalists Syndicate's Freedoms Committee, is reflected in a reporter's sunglasses as he arrives at Cairo south court in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, June 4, 2016. The head of Egypt's journalists union and two of its board members are on trail over allegations that they harbored journalists wanted by authorities and spread false news. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    Khaled El-Balshy, Head of Journalists Syndicate's Freedoms Committee, is reflected in a reporter's sunglasses as he arrives at Cairo south court in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, June 4, 2016. The head of Egypt's journalists union and two of its board members are on trail over allegations that they harbored journalists wanted by authorities and spread false news. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)  (The Associated Press)

Egypt has put on trial the head of the journalists union and two board members for spreading false news and harboring reporters wanted by authorities.

Union head Yahya Qalash and board members Khaled el-Balshy and Gamal Abdel-Rahim showed up at a downtown Cairo court Saturday with around a dozen defense lawyers.

In a 10-minute hearing, the defense requested a postponement to allow them time to study the case.

The defendants were greeted with chants of "Long live the struggle of journalists!" by supporters when they came out of the courthouse.

Scores of riot policemen, backed by armored vehicles, were deployed around the courthouse.

Amnesty International condemned the legal proceedings against the three last week, describing them as part of the government's "draconian" crackdown on freedom of expression.