Egypt Sentences Al-Jazeera Journalists to Three Years in Prison

The three journalists maintained innocence amid the verdict

This week, an Egyptian court sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to three years in prison, The journalists claimed innocence of the charges filed against them.

Journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were present for the proceedings and received the verdict. While Australian Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, outside of Egypt after he was deported this year, was sentenced in absentia.

Greste with his Peabody Award for the Somalia: The Land of Anarchy.

The Egyptian court asserted the journalists were guilty of collaborating and helping the terrorist organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood. The group was considered an outlaw organization in Egypt following the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The three journalists were convicted last year. They were imprisoned on charges of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood as well as charges of airing false news.

However, amid the verdict, the three journalists claimed they are innocent and reasoned out that they are doing their jobs as journalists.

US Deeply Disappointed by the Verdict

In a press statement in Washington DC, US State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said the United States is deeply disappointed and concerned by the verdict handed down by the Egyptian court to the three Al-Jazeera journalists.

Mr. Kirby stressed that freedom of the press to investigate, report, and comment – even when its perspective is unpopular or disputed – is fundamental to any free society and essential to democratic development.

“We urge the Government of Egypt to take all available measures to redress this verdict, which undermines the very freedom of expression necessary for stability and development.” – Mr. Kirby

Looking Back

In May 2012, with the hope of regaining the country’s stability after the revolution, Egyptians headed to the polls to cast their ballots in the country’s first free vote for a leader in 5,000 years of history.

Around 50 million eligible Egyptian voters were called upon to choose 13 candidates.

Earlier in 2012, President Obama proposed a $1 billion cancellation of Egyptian debt to support Egypt’s economic recovery.

Egypt has made progress on human rights since the revolution that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Long-standing regimes were toppled by a wave of pro-democracy protests that have engulfed much of North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, particularly in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.