Human Rights Watch denounces Egypt's stand on freedom of expression ahead of al-Jazeera trial

A rights group has denounced Egypt's stand on freedom of expression as 20 employees of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network are due to go on trial.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch described in a Thursday statement as "politicized" the charges against the Al-Jazeera employees, which include belonging and aiding a terrorist group and working in Egypt without a license.

The trial of the Al-Jazeera employees, who include acting chief of bureau Mohamed Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian, and correspondent Peter Greste, an Australian, begins on Thursday.

The charges are based on the government's designation in December of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which ousted Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi hails, as a terrorist organization.

Authorities depict Al-Jazeera as biased toward Morsi and the Brotherhood.

Al-Jazeera denies any bias.