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.