Demonstrators around the world demand release of three Al Jazeera journalists

Demonstrators demand release of Al Jazeera jo... 02:24

Reporters, politicians, and celebrities around the world are rallying Thursday to support freedom of the press. The main focus is on journalists being held in Egypt, but organizers say their message applies to other nations, including the United States.

The theme of the protests is "Journalism is not a crime," which is a direct reference to the charges against the Al Jazeera journalists of spreading lies and having links to a terrorist organization.

The journalists are correspondent Peter Greste, who had been reporting on Egypt's political upheaval and producers Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed.

Sue Turton, a Foreign Correspondent for Al Jazeera in London, told CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer her colleagues did not commit a crime.

"It's all part of a huge media crackdown in Egypt," said Turton. "They've been trying to silence anyone who speaks out against the military-backed government since the coup last summer when Mohammed Morsi was removed from power."

Their so-called crime was talking to and reporting on opponents of the government, specifically former President Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which was recently designated a terrorist organization.

Three years ago, tens of thousands of young people filled Tahrir Square demanding the right to freedom of speech. These arrests prove the dream has died.

In December, the security forces actually filmed the journalists' arrest from their downtown Cairo hotel room. They then broadcast it on Egyptian television, complete with a bizarre suspense sound track over shots of basic broadcasting equipment.

Last week, shaky cell phone video showed the three men at their first court appearance. The hearing didn't go well. All three were denied bail.

It was a devastating blow to Greste's father who was watching from his home in Australia.

"He's been maligned, blacklisted," said Juris Greste. "He's in the place of the worst of the worst. Where is natural justice? Where is compassion?"

The three Al Jazeera journalists are supposed to next appear in court on March 5, 2014.

To see Elizabeth Palmer's full report, watch the video in the player above