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Three Journalists reporting for Al-Jazeera sentenced today

By BRIAN ROHAN, August 29, 2015. Yahoo News (AP)

marwa-fahmy Marwa Fahmy wife of Canadian Al-Jazeera English journalist Mohammed Fahmy, bursts into tears, as she is watched by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, after the verdict in a courtroom in Tora prison in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced three Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years in prison, the last twist in a long-running trial criticized worldwide by press freedom advocates and human rights activists. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

CAIRO (AP) An Egyptian court sentenced three Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years in prison on Saturday for broadcasting “false news,” sparking an international outcry and underlining how authorities are trampling over free speech just over a year into general-turned-politician Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s presidency.

Mohammed Fahmy,

Canadian Al-Jazeera English journalist Mohammed Fahmy, listens to his verdict in a soundproof glass cage inside a makeshift courtroom in Tora prison in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced three Al-Jazeera English journalists, including Fahmy, to three years in prison, the last twist in a long-running trial criticized worldwide by press freedom advocates and human rights activists. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

The men are now seeking a pardon from el-Sissi, who has personally expressed regret over the long-running trial and the damage it has done to Egypt’s international reputation — saying it would have been better to simply deport the journalists. Al Jazeera said it will also appeal the verdict, once the court releases its full ruling in the next 30 days.

Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed’s case had embroiled their work into the wider political conflict between Egypt and Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based, following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed’s case had embroiled their work into the wider political conflict between Egypt and Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based, following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The verdict comes just weeks after el-Sissi issued a new anti-terrorism law, which sets a sweeping definition for who could face a harsh set of punishments, including journalists who don’t toe the government line. The new law, like Saturday’s verdict, has drawn criticism from diplomats, press freedom advocates and human rights organizations.

Greste, who was deported from Egypt in February, said he believed an Egyptian appeals court would overturn the verdict, and called on el-Sissi to pardon him and his colleagues. Fahmy and Mohammed, both on hand for Saturday’s hearing, were immediately taken away by police after the hearing.

“In the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing, the only conclusion that we can come to is that this verdict was politically motivated,” Greste told reporters in Sydney on Sunday. “President Sissi now has an opportunity to undo that injustice. The eyes of the world are on Egypt.”

Mostefa Souag, Al-Jazeera’s acting director-general, also criticized the verdict, saying it “defies logic and common sense.”

“The whole case has been heavily politicized and has not been conducted in a free and fair manner,” Souag said in a statement. “There is no evidence proving that our colleagues in any way fabricated news or aided and abetted terrorist organizations and at no point during the long drawn out retrial did any of the unfounded allegations stand up to scrutiny.”

Baher Mohammed takes the stand

Baher Mohammed takes the stand for questioning. August 29, 2015.

Judge Hassan Farid, in his ruling, said he sentenced the men to prison because they had not registered with the country’s journalist syndicate. He also said the men brought in equipment without security officials’ approval, had broadcast “false news” on Al-Jazeera and used a hotel as a broadcasting point without permission.

Fahmy’s wife, Marwa, broke down in tears as the verdict was read out, with others sobbing in the courtroom.

“I am asking for justice, for fairness,” she said while leaving the court. “I feel extremely disappointed because I love my country and I know that Mohammed loves his country. … It’s really hard for us.”

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who represented Fahmy on Saturday, said she would be meeting with Egyptian officials later in the day along with Canadian Ambassador Troy Lulashnyk to press for a presidential pardon.

“The verdict today sends a very dangerous message in Egypt,” Clooney said. “Journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news. And it sends a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political repression and propaganda.”

To read this entire article by BRIAN ROHAN on August 29, 2015 in Yahoo News click on the link below.

Egypt sentences 3 Al-Jazeera reporters to 3 years in prison – Yahoo News

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