Today from Hiiraan Online:
Egypt court sentences Al Jazeera journalists
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Two Al Jazeera English journalists have been sentenced to seven years in jail and one to 10 years by an Egyptian court on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news.
The guilty verdicts were announced by a judge on Monday against Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed.
Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Baher Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for possession of ammunition. Mohamed was in possession of a spent bullet casing he had found on the ground during a protest.
Other Al Jazeera journalists who were tried in absentia, including Sue Turton and Dominic Kane, were sentenced to 10 years.
Al Jazeera has strenuously rejected the charges against its journalists and maintains their innocence.
Greste, Fahmy, and Mohamed were arrested in December in Cairo as they covered the aftermath of the army's removal of Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in July.
The prosecution said Greste, Al Jazeera's East Africa correspondent, and his Egypt bureau colleagues aided the Brotherhood and produced false news reports of the situation in Egypt.
The Brotherhood, which supported Morsi, was listed as a "terrorist" organisation by the interim Egyptian government shortly before the accused were arrested.
The prosecution produced a number of items as evidence including a BBC podcast, a news report made while none of the accused were in Egypt, a pop video by the Australian singer Gotye, and several recordings on non-Egyptian issues.
The defence maintained that the journalists were wrongly arrested and that the prosecution had failed to prove any of the charges against them.
Al Anstey, Al Jazeera English managing director, said 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," Anstey said in a statement.
"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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