Outrage as Egyptian court hands three-year sentences to Al Jazeera journalists
| 30 August 2015
In a move that has brought shock across the world, a court in Cairo has handed down three-year sentences in the retrial of Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste.
Egyptian Baher Mohamed, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste were found guilty in June 2014 of aiding a terrorist organisation, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned in Egypt after former president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown in 2013.
The trial and sentences – ranging from seven to 10 years in jail – drew international condemnation from human rights groups and governments including the US and UK.
In January 29015, an appeals court ordered a retrial, and Peter Greste was deported to his native Australia. Mohamed and Fahmy remained in Egypt on bail.
The guilty verdicts were reached even though a report issued by a technical committee assigned by the court in Egypt contradicted the accusations made by the public prosecutor and stated that the seized videos were not fabricated. Following the retrial verdict Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy have returned to prison while Greste was sentenced in absentia.
Expressing total condemnation of the verdict, Al Jazeera Media Network’s acting director general Dr Mostefa Souag said: "Today's verdict defies logic and common sense... The whole case has been heavily politicised and has not been conducted in a free and fair manner. There is no evidence proving that our colleagues in any way fabricated news or aided and abetted terrorist organisations and at no point during the long drawn out retrial did any of the unfounded allegations stand up to scrutiny. Baher, Peter and Mohamed have been sentenced despite the fact that not a shred of evidence was found to support the extraordinary and false charges against them.
“Today's verdict is yet another deliberate attack on press freedom. It is a dark day for the Egyptian judiciary; rather than defend liberties and a free and fair media they have compromised their independence for political reasons."
Al Jazeera Media Network added that it would continue to call for freedom for its journalists and called on the global community to continue the fight for the freedom of speech.