An Egyptian judge on Monday sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to long prison terms, one to 10 years and two to seven years, after finding them guilty on charges that included helping the Muslim Brotherhood by publishing false information.
Judge Mohamed Nagui Shehata sentenced Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, Australian correspondent Peter Greste, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed to seven years for supporting a “terrorist organization.” Mohamed also received an extra three years in prison on separate charges.
Greste, Fahmy and Mohammed were arrested in December in a raid on the Cairo hotel room they were using as an office, as part of a crackdown on Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
The journalists were accused of supporting Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which state officials have declared a “terrorist organization.” They also face charges of fabricating “lies” to give the impression the country was facing civil war.
British Ambassador to Egypt James Watt said he was “very disappointed” by the verdict. “Freedom of expression is fundamental to any democracy,” he said.
The judge also delivered 10-year sentences in absentia to two British journalists and a Dutch journalist.
Another 11 defendants were also sentenced in absentia to 10 years.