International outrage as Egypt jails journalists
Three men were jailed between seven and 10 years in an Egyptian court on Monday.
Their crime? Doing their job.
The three Al-Jazeera journalists had reported on the government's deadly crackdown on ousted president Mohamed Morsi's supporters.
For that, the trio were accused of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood and tarnishing Egypt’s reputation by “spreading false news”.
Australia’s Peter Greste and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy each got seven years, while Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed received two sentences – one for seven years and another for three.
Eleven defendants tried in absentia, including one Dutch journalist and two British journalists, were given 10-year sentences.
The verdict has provoked an international outcry and raised fears of growing media restrictions in Egypt.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said: “It is not a crime to carry a camera. It is not a crime to criticise the authorities or to interview people who hold unpopular views.”
She urged the authorities to “promptly release” all journalists and media employees jailed for doing their job.
The Australian government said it was “shocked” by the verdict.
“We are deeply dismayed that a sentence has been imposed and appalled at the severity of it,” Canberra’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.
Al-Jazeera chief Mustafa Sawaq said in Doha: “We condemn... this kind of unjust verdict. ... We are shocked.”
Incensed by coverage
Since the army ousted Morsi in July last year, the authorities have been incensed by Al-Jazeera’s coverage of their deadly crackdown on his supporters.
They consider the network to be the voice of Qatar and accuse Doha of backing the Muslim Brotherhood.
The verdict comes after an Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed death sentences for 183 Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters.