In a move widely seen as a crushing blow to press freedom in Egypt, a Cairo courtroom has handed down a guilty verdict in the trial of three Al Jazeera journalists.
Peter Greste and Mohammed Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Baher Mohamed got an extra 3 years for possession of ammunition. Other Al Jazeera journalists tried in absentia were given 10 years in prison. (Via CCTV)
The three men were arrested back in December while working in a Cairo hotel. (Via Al Jazeera)
Since then, they've been detained on charges including spreading false news and conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood— charges they, and Al Jazeera deny. (Via Jewish News One)
The New York Times reports throughout the trial the prosecutors never gave any evidence to support the charges.
Their trial was part of an ongoing effort by Egypt’s government to crackdown Islamist supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Since last summer, authorities have detained thousands of Brotherhood members and sentenced hundreds to death. (Via Euronews)
The case caused international outrage — with human rights groups calling it politicized and a blow to press freedom. (Via Al Jazeera)
MOHAMMED YEHIA: “Al Jazeera is seen by many in Egypt and Egyptian officials as a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood. And this is what the accusations were about.” (Via BBC)
Amnesty International argued the journalists were pawns in the long-running dispute between Egypt and Qatar — the nation that finances Al Jazeera.
For months journalists around the world using the hashtag #freeAJstaff and demanded Egypt free the journalists. (Via Twitter / phhrnompenhpost, Twitter / @amnestynl, Twitter / @ajam, Twitter/ LeighKiniry)
A Cairo-based photojournalist simply tweeted: “The day journalism became a crime in Egypt.”
Newly-elected president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has the authority to pardon the journalists. Both the Netherlands and the U.K. have summoned their Egyptian ambassadors over the verdict.