NPR: Three journalists who work for the Al-Jazeera news network have been sentenced to prison terms — two lasting seven years and a third lasting 10 — by an Egyptian court. The three were accused of aiding terrorists, a term that in this case applies to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. From Egypt’s Ahram Online:
Three Al Jazeera journalists who have been held in Egypt since December have been sentenced to seven years in jail, according to Ahram Online’s reporter at the courthouse. The three defendants are Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed. They have been on trial along with 17 others on charges of “spreading false news,” falsely portraying Egypt as being in a state of “civil war,” as well as aiding or joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood. In addition to his seven-year sentence, Baher Mohamed was handed an extra three-year term as well as an LE5,000 fine for possessing ammunition. The case, which began on 20 February and spanned over 12 hearings, has provoked fears about the future of media freedom and the muzzling of political dissent in Egypt. Local and global rights watchdogs, as well as international news organisations, have repeatedly called for the release of the detained journalists.
The punishment prompted shock and anger in a case that has drawn objections from many news organizations, including NPR. “It was a devastating scene in the courtroom today,” NPR’s Leila Fadel reports from Cairo, “the families of the journalists letting out a collective gasp, bursting into tears — shocked that their children, that their brothers, that their loved ones will now spend much of their life … in jail, for basically doing the job of what we all do as journalists.” The verdicts defy “logic, sense, and any semblance of justice,” says Managing Director Al Anstey. Before the sentences were announced, the defendants had been hopeful they might be released, Leila says. After the terms were read, the journalists were yelling and banging on the bars of the cages that traditionally house defendants in Egyptian courts. MORE