UPDATE: Egypt sentences 3 Al Jazeera journalists to jail

Imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists. L-R: Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste

“There is only one sensible outcome now – for the verdict to be overturned, and justice to be recognised by Egypt.”

An Egyptian Court on Monday morning sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to jail.

The court found Peter Greste (Correspondent), Mohamed Fahmy (Producer), and Baher Mohamed (Producer) guilty of reporting false news and associating with the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Baher Mohammed was sentenced to an additional three years for being in possession of spent cartridge.

The three journalists have been held in Egyptian prison since December, 2013.

Six other Al Jazeera staff, charged in absentia, were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Al Jazeera had provided extensive coverage of the protests in Egypt following the coup that ousted former president Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The coverage showed, among others, how Egyptian security agencies killed hundreds of peaceful protesters in sit-ins in Cairo. The protesters were demanding the release and reinstatement of Mr. Morsi.

Egypt, which was suspended from the African Union, AU, following the coup, was only recently readmitted following the election of Abdulfatah Al-Sisi as president.
Mr. Al-Sisi, an Army General, and then head of the Egyptian Army, carried out the coup against Mr. Morsi and is believed to have ordered the killings of the hundreds of peaceful protesters; whose demonstration were well covered by Al Jazeera.

Aljazeera has denied the allegations against its journalists and several world leaders including the UN Secretary General have called for the release of the journalists.

The twitter hashtag #FreeAJStaff has been used globally to demand the release of the journalists.

The Australian government has already condemned the sentencing, particularly of Mr. Greste, who is an Australian.

The Australian government “urges the new government of Egypt to reflect on what message being sent to the world on the situation in Egypt,” the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said.

Ms. Bishop said the Australian government was “deeply dismayed” that the court could come up with a guilty verdict on the journalists, saying “We (Australian government) are appalled by the severity of it.”
Al Jazeera also quotes its English managing director, Al Anstey, as saying the verdicts defied “logic, sense, and any semblance of justice”.

“Today three colleagues and friends were sentenced, and will continue to be kept behind bars for doing a brilliant job of being great journalists.  ‘Guilty’ of covering stories with great skill and integrity. ‘Guilty’ of defending people’s right to know what is going on in their world.

“Peter, Mohamed, and Baher and six of our other colleagues were sentenced despite the fact that not a shred of evidence was found to support the extraordinary and false charges against them.  At no point during the long drawn out ‘trial’ did the absurd allegations stand up to scrutiny.

“There is only one sensible outcome now – for the verdict to be overturned, and justice to be recognised by Egypt.”


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