Al Jazeera English journalists Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed were sentenced on Monday to seven years in Egyptian prison for accusations of reporting false news and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for possession of a single bullet, according to The New York Times.
Evidence presented in court against the three journalists included family photos of ski vacations, and an award-winning BBC documentary Greste once filmed in Somalia, according to Buzzfeed.
From Oct to Dec 2013 I reported on events in Egypt. Today I was convicted of helping terrorists and given ten years in jail. #freeAJEstaffâ€” Dominic Kane (@SP_Dom) June 23, 2014
Netjes never worked for Al Jazeera but was reportedly charged because she met with Fahmy, one of the convicted Al Jazeera journalists, in a Marriott hotel to discuss coverage of the Sinai region. Egyptian officials notified the Dutch Embassy before the Egyptian police could arrest her, allowing her to leave Egypt.
10 years for a cup of coffee in The Mariott. Too bizar for a filmscript. #Egyptâ€” Rena Netjes (@RenaNetjes) June 23, 2014
Kate Benyon-Tinker, a BBC Middle East producer, tweeted from the emotional scene at the trial:
Relatives of journos crying. Some of the journalists covering the verdict also in tears #AJTrialâ€” Kate Benyon-Tinker (@katebt3000) June 23, 2014
British journalist Louisa Loveluck took this video of the three journalists in cages in the court:
Al Jazeera English Managing Director Al Anstey released a statement following the convictions, calling the verdict defiant of “logic, sense and any semblance of justice.”
“Today three colleagues and friends were sentenced, and will continue behind bars for doing a brilliant job of being great journalists. 'Guilty' of covering stories with great skill and integrity. 'Guilty' of defending people’s right to know what is going on in their world,” Anstey wrote. “There is only one sensible outcome now. For the verdict to be overturned, and justice to be recognized by Egypt. We must keep our voice loud to call for an end to their detention. Alongside us is a worldwide solidarity, a global call for their release and a demand for basic freedoms to be respected. The authorities in Egypt need to take responsibility for their actions and be held to account by the global community.”
Journalists expressed their outrage at the convictions.
BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen:
Disgraceful 7 year sentences handed down to Al Jazeera journalists in Cairo. Egyptian euphoria after Mubarak's fall feels a world away.â€” Jeremy Bowen (@BowenBBC) June 23, 2014
Al Jazeera English journalist Anita McNaught:
U.K. Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow:
Has Kerry sanctified Egypt's systematic injustice? 7 years for 3 @AJEnglish journalists as US resumes $600m of infernal arms sales to Cairoâ€” Jon Snow (@jonsnowC4) June 23, 2014
British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Egypt to “review” the “unacceptable sentences”:
#Egypt should review unacceptable sentences against Egyptian and international journalists and show commitment to freedom of the pressâ€” William Hague (@WilliamJHague) June 23, 2014
Egyptian authorities released Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy last week due to his poor health. Elshamy was present at the court on Monday.
Here for the verdict Al Jazeera's Abdullah Elshamy who was released last wk after 130 days on hunger strike pic.twitter.com/75697Po4HG— Christian Fraser (@ForeignCorresp) June 23, 2014