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Egypt verdict a ‘deliberate attack on press freedom’: Al-Jazeera

August 29, 2015

Al-Jazeera condemned the decision by an Egyptian court on Saturday to sentence three of its journalists to three years in prison as a “deliberate attack on press freedom”.

The Qatar-based broadcaster also said in a statement released just minutes after the decision was announced in a Cairo court that the verdict “defies logic and freedom” and it would not rest until its staff “are freed”.

“Today’s verdict is yet another deliberate attack on press freedom,” it said.

“It is a dark day for the Egyptian judiciary; rather than defend liberties and a free and fair media they have compromised their independence for political reasons.”

It added: “The whole case has been politicised and has not been conducted in a free and fair manner.”

The acting managing director of Al-Jazeera English, Giles Trendle, speaking on air on Saturday morning added that the verdict was “disgraceful, disgusting and we are shocked”.

Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were present in court to hear the verdict.

Australian journalist Peter Greste was tried in absentia after his deportation early this year.

At least three other co-defendants, accused of working with Al-Jazeera, received similar sentences.

Their retrial was ordered after an appeals court overturned an initial sentence of seven years in prison, saying the prosecution had presented scant evidence against them.

Fahmy and Greste were arrested in December 2013, six months after the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The three were accused of having supported the Brotherhood in their coverage. However, during the trial, the prosecution failed to find fault in their reporting.

Relations between Egypt and Qatar remain tense with Cairo accusing Doha of supporting the Brotherhood.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.