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Ex-Reuters journalist Peter Greste goes on trial in Egypt

Former Reuters correspondent Peter Greste, pictured, imprisoned in Egypt since his arrest two months ago, went on trial with other journalists on Thursday and shouted from the courtroom defendants' cage that they faced "psychologically unbearable" conditions in prison.

Greste, who previously worked for Reuters in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Serbia, was working with two other journalists for the English television channel of Al Jazeera, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, when they were arrested on 29 December.

Egyptian-Canadian Fahmy and Greste also shouted to reporters in the courtroom that they had no access to books or newspapers and were allowed only one hour of exercise a day. They said they were allowed a weekly visit by their lawyers and that prison officials monitored family visits.

“I love my family, I'm strong,” Greste told reporters from the caged dock with seven other defendants in a makeshift courtroom set up at a police academy south of Cairo. “The physical conditions (of prison) are good but I'm psychologically drained. We know we have done nothing wrong. We have confidence that justice will set us free,” he said.

The two are among 20 defendants accused of belonging to and aiding a terrorist organisation and threatening national security. Of the 20, only eight were present in the courtroom. The rest are at large and will be tried in absentia.

Egyptian authorities have depicted Al-Jazeera as biased towards ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group. Al-Jazeera denies being biased.

The trial was adjourned until 5 March after a 40-minute hearing. ■