Egyptian court sends three Al-Jazeera journalists to jail

Monday, June 23, 2014

Peter Greste, one of the journalists convicted, collecting a Peabody Award in 2012.
Image: Peabody Awards.

Three journalists from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television news network have been sentenced to seven years in jail by a court in Cairo today for spreading false news and helping the Muslim Brotherhood group which are now banned as terrorists. The three journalists — the Australian correspondent Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian journalist and Cairo bureau chief for Al-Jazeera Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian producer— were convicted alongside others tried in absentia.

Baher Mohamed was sentenced to three years on a second charge for possessing weapons.

Al Antsey, the managing director for Al Jazeera English said of the judgment: "Today three colleagues and friends were sentenced, and will continue 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 were many moments during the hearings where in any other court of law, the trial would be thrown out. There were numerous irregularities in addition to the lack of evidence to stand up the ill-conceived allegations."

Julie Bishop, the Australian Foreign Minister, said she was "bitterly disappointed" by the decision.