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Australian journalist Peter Greste has pleaded not guilty to terror charges in an Egyptian court.
AP Australian journalist Peter Greste has pleaded not guilty to terror charges in an Egyptian court.

A group of three Al-Jazeera journalists, including Australian Peter Greste, have pleaded not guilty in an Egyptian court on terror charges.

The men shouted from the dock that their prison conditions are "psychologically unbearable" as they went on trial with several other defendants.

The high-profile case - with journalists charged under anti-terror laws for the first time in Egypt - underlined the tug of war between the military-backed government and the Qatari-based network criticised for its coverage of the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the crackdown against his Muslim Brotherhood.

Authorities accuse Al-Jazeera of acting as a platform for Morsi's supporters. The network denies that and says its journalists were only doing their jobs.

The December 29 arrest of Al-Jazeera English's acting bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian; Australian award-winning correspondent Greste; and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed sparked an outcry from international media, rights groups and journalist advocacy organisations.

Greste's parents, Lois and Juris Greste, told the ABC on Thursday that their 48-year-old son was coping relatively well in jail, running during the daily 60-minute exercise period and meditating at other times.

"We clearly would desperately want the bail application to be accepted and granted. But, of course, as far as we are concerned, he is entirely and completely innocent and he should be either back home here or at his usual job in Nairobi," Juris Greste told the ABC.

Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English, called for journalists around the world to show solidarity with the detained journalists.

"What is going on in Egypt right now is a trial of journalism itself, so it is critical that we remain resolute in calling for freedom of speech, for the right for people to know, and for the immediate release of all of Al Jazeera's journalists in detention in Egypt," he said in a statement.