Three al-Jazeera journalists accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood have been jailed for seven years in Egypt. A court in Cairo convicted Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed of spreading false news and supporting the now banned Islamist group. The trio had denied the charges.
Nine defendants tried in absentia, including three foreign journalists, received ten-year sentences. The trial has caused an international outcry amid claims it is politicized. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters on Monday she was bitterly disappointed by the outcome. “I simply can not understand how a court could come to this conclusion,” she said.
Correspondents say evidence put forward earlier in court did nothing to support the serious charges brought. The judge was shown in photograph from Mr. Greste’s family holiday, a Sky Radio report on cruelty to horses and a video of a press conference in Nairobi.
“The three al-Jazeera journalists, you have been detained in Egypt for the past six months, while each sentenced to seven years in jail. Mr. Mohamed is sentenced to a further three years in jail on a separate charge involving possession of weapons,” in a statement, al-Jazeera English’s managing director al-Anstey said the sentence defied logic, sense, and any semblance of justice.
The three men are expected to appeal. Al-Jazeera has said only nine of the 20 defendants are its employees. The others are reportedly students and activists, two of whom were acquitted in Monday’s verdict. It comes amid concerns over growing media restrictions in Egypt.
Mr. Greste’s brother Andrew Greste said he was surprised by verdict, and that he had been ensured all along by the authorities that the Egyptian judiciary is independent.