A Cairo court has sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to three years in jail after finding them guilty of “aiding a terrorist organisation”.
The verdict was immediately slammed by Al Jazeera Media Network’s Acting Director General Dr Mostefa Souag, who said: “Today’s verdict defies logic and common sense. Our colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy will now have to return to prison, and Peter Greste is sentenced in absentia.
“The whole case has been heavily politicised and has not been conducted in a free and fair manner.”
ABOVE PHOTO: July 30, 2015: Al-Jazeera journalists, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy (left) and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, wait outside Cairo’s Torah prison where their trial was due to take place – © Provided by AFP
Egyptian Baher Mohamed, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste were all handed three year jail sentences when the court delivered the verdict on Saturday.
Mohamed was sentenced to an additional six months for possession of a spent bullet casing.
The journalists were initially found guilty in June 2014 of aiding a “terrorist organisation”, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in Egypt after the army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Greste and Fahmy received seven years, while Mohamed was given 10 years.
In January, an appeals court ordered a retrial, saying the initial verdict lacked evidence against the three journalists working for the Doha-based network’s English channel.
The journalists and Al Jazeera have vigorously denied the accusations during the trial.
Ten previous sessions in the court had all been adjourned.
Greste has already been deported to his native Australia under a law allowing the transfer of foreigners on trial to their home countries, but he was retried in absentia.
Fahmy and Mohamed were on bail ahead of the verdict after spending more than 400 days in detention.
Fahmy renounced his Egyptian nationality hoping he too would be deported.
The three men have received support from governments, media organisations and rights groups from around the world.