Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt sentenced to three years in prison
The three denied all charges & rights advocates said their arrest was part of a crackdown on free speech.
CAIRO - An Egyptian court sentenced three Al Jazeera TV journalists to three years in prison on Saturday for operating without a press licence and broadcasting material harmful to Egypt, a case that has triggered an international outcry.
The verdict in a retrial was issued against Mohamed Fahmy, a naturalised Canadian who has given up his Egyptian citizenship, Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, and Australian Peter Greste, who was deported in February.
Judge Hassan Farid said the defendants, dubbed the "Marriott Cell" by the local press because they worked out of a hotel belonging to that chain, "are not journalists and not members of the press syndicate" and broadcast with unlicensed equipment.
The three denied all charges and rights advocates said their arrest was part of a wider crackdown on free speech since the military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi, a senior Muslim Brotherhood figure, in mid-2013 following mass unrest.
The three men were originally sentenced to between seven to 10 years in prison on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organisation, a reference to the Brotherhood.
Fahmy and Mohamed, who had been released on bail in February after over a year in jail, were taken back into custody after Saturday's verdict, according to Fahmy's wife Marwa Omara. She was in tears after the verdict was read out.
Meanwhile, people reacted with outrage to the news:
Appalling #Egypt verdicts sees Al Jazeera journos get 3 yrs in prison. Journalism is not a crime. PS. this tyrannical ally is US-UK funded.— Mohammed Ansar (@MoAnsar) August 29, 2015