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Al-Jazeera journalists sentenced to seven years in prison in Egypt

June 23, 2014

Two Al-Jazeera journalists detained in the case known as the “Marriott Cell” have been sentenced to seven years in maximum security prison. A third journalist has been sentenced to 10 years.

The two defendants, Australian Journalist Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, sentenced to seven years in prison were detained on December 29 at the Marriott in Cairo and had been accused of defaming Egypt and spreading false news that harms the nation’s interests.

The third journalist, Baher Mohamed, was detained a day later and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by the criminal court. According to lawyers, Baher Mohamed received an extra three years for possession of a spent bullet casing.

Meanwhile, eleven defendants tried in absentia, including Dutch journalist Rena Netjes, were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The journalists had also been accused of paying 16 suspected Muslim Brotherhood members who were charged with belonging to a terrorist organization.

International outcry

Detained Al-Jazeera journalists appear in court earlier this month Credit: Amir Makar
Detained Al-Jazeera journalists appear in court earlier this month Credit: Amir Makar

During the trial, which consisted of 12 court appearances over six months, prosecutors had demanded the maximum penalty of 15 years.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop condemned the verdict less than an hour after it was released.

“The Egyptian government’s response has to this day been that the judiciary is an independent process…in Australia we respect that, but we are shocked,” said the Foreign Minister in a press conference, adding that the Australian government will contact Egyptian authorities to explore avenues for ‘intervention.’

A day before the trial, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott appealed to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for the release of Peter Greste.

“I think he understands that this would be a PR coup for the new government if Peter Greste is not dealt with severely,” stated Prime Minister Abbott following his conversation with President Sisi.

Meanwhile, during his surprise visit to Cairo on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Egypt’s President to uphold press freedom.

“I emphasized our strong support for upholding the universal rights and freedoms of all Egyptians, including freedom of expression,” stated the Secretary of State during a joint press-conference with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Joining the calls of international dignitaries, multiple non-governmental organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, called for the urgent release of all detained journalists.

Across the globe, journalists had also campaigned for the release of their colleagues in Cairo. Demonstrations in solidarity with the detained journalists had been held in Sydney, Paris, London, New York, Berlin, Beirut, Ankara and other cities.

In a statement following the verdict, Al-Jazeera’s Acting Director-General Mostefa Souag declared “Al-Jazeera is outraged, very angry and very shocked.”

The sentences of the journalists are expected to be appealed by the defendants and their lawyers.

Comments (59)

    1. Guest says:

      @disqus_Bw0fY7lJKx:disqus They were photographing staged protests. The images ended up all over the news suggesting that Egypt was in a civil war and that security forces are to blame.

  1. Rasmus says:

    Wow. It is incredible that in 2014 these type of mock trials can still take place.
    I always dreamed of bringing my family to Egypt and see the wonderful art and culture of Egypt but this corrupted legal system makes it impossible for me or anybody to visit as a tourist.

    1. Guest says:

      Dont comment unless you know whats happening. Search up “fake Muslim brotherhood protest in egypt” and you’ll see why these so called journalists got arrested.

    2. Abdulrahman Osama says:

      It is NOT a fake one. this was a short movie made by a group of young fellows to SHOW turds like you what it is like to be in their shoes! to be a true rebel, freakin turd!

    3. Guest says:

      Make accuses all you want but this was a fake pollywood protest. Al Jazeera was involved and they should suffer the consequences.

    4. Abdulrahman Osama says:

      You can not jut call it corrupted because the sentence doesn’t appeal to you, however I understand that 7 to 10 in a maximum security prison sounds very harsh, but Al Jazeera has contributed in a lot of destruction in Egypt.

    5. M Cats says:

      by reporting the news? Yea. Ok.

    6. Guest says:

      They were reporting false news and broadcasting staged protests.

    7. Mike says:

      I doubt it was these guys, but there were videos of bloody people, some looked dead, protesting, but someone was recording the whole time and they were setting it up like “ojay, you ready? start screaming” Again, not sure if it is the same thing, but that DID happen. It is available at the public’s disposal, people just never really look.

    8. Terra Mikael says:

      How does one stage a fake protest exactly? Do the same thing protesters do, but not really mean it?

      That’s quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    9. Bystanding Witness says:

      Before you call someone “dumb” you should maybe get an idea what’s really going on? For instance (and no hearsay as I was myself in that mess): going out for dinner in 6th of Oct City we got into a messy build-up of cars and luckily could still manoever around it. The first row of cars (some 6 if them) had the yellow flag with the 4 fingers which were blocking the 4 lane street. The rest of the pile-up were ordinary Caireens who wanted to go somewhere – mixed with here and there some guys with the flags – and where angrily shouting at the MBs. The very next morning we saw exactly this scene on AJ Arabic telling its viewers about a big and angry demonstration by “hundreds of supporters of the MB”. That’s just one of the many incidents which I witnessed myself.
      Maybe you can also remember the time when the seemingly dead MB kicked away with his foot a paramedic who wanted to show his wounds under a bloody t-shirt … only that there was nothing under it except healthy flesh? After kicking the paramedic the guy played “dead” again. And so on and so forth … get real, will you?

    10. Terra Mikael says:

      Big deal. Obviously there was a protest, you say it stopped traffic yourself. What kind of person would hang out inside of a protest full of angry half-wits rather than just wait out the traffic in your car?

    11. Moderate This is a Moron says:

      They have only reported the news and what is actually happening. This is trying to put blame on the wrong people. Not very smart. It is corrupt because this government is putting people in prison for simply shedding light on things that are actually happening.

      Maybe someone should write this in crayon for you to understand.

    12. Guest says:

      You’re dumb if you think they were reporting the news. Look up “fake egyptian protests” and you’ll see why these so called journalists got arrested.

    13. Hend says:

      They reported fake news, including showing Syria as Egypt, that itself can cause distress to the public who live outside of Egypt. They got the punishment they deserve.

    14. Andrew Sprague says:

      It is called a fair and due process trial. Are your really telling me that 14 JOURNALISTS! 14!!!!!! Were involved? From many different countries? I am an American I am for the Military Junta I am against the Muslim Brotherhood and any Islamic Political Entity for that matter. But this is obviously a reactionary action. Arrest the people directly involved with the video. Besides that no crimes were committed and this trial will serve you in the World losing complete respect for Egypt. Just couple weeks ago a Women was gang raped in the capital square. Now this. Egypt seems to me to be the most Fascist, Women hating countries in the Middle Eastern area currently. That is saying something.

  2. Abdulrahman Osama says:

    I think you shouldn’t be talking like that to anyone who could help your economy grow, you stupid Minymina turd! -_- learn to live or die away from the internet!

  3. Abdulrahman Osama says:

    Haha I have seen this so many times before. you are a genuine turd! This video has been used since ever to accuse pretty much all political parties and everyone who opposes the group in power. rebels, foloul, MIB, even the army was accused of making this shit up!!! I hate turds -_-

  4. Abdulrahman Osama says:

    oh accusing them of faking their rallies and demonstrations. that is what I meant.