In Egypt, three Al-Jazeera journalists have been sentenced to seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges. One was given an additional three years on a separate charge. They’re convicted of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Charges they all deny. One of those journalists is from Australia and his government is fighting to get him back. CCTV’S Hannah Belcher reports from Sydney. Then, CCTV’s Yasser Hakim reports from Cairo on the reaction to the verdict.
Egypt sentences Al-Jazeera journalists to 7 years of jail timeIn Egypt, three Al-Jazeera journalists have been sentenced to seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges. One was given an additional three years on a separate charge. They're convicted of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Charges they all deny. The verdict has triggered widespread international criticism. But in Egypt, there's little sympathy for the jailed journalists. Yasser Hakim, Cairo reports.
A shockwave hit the court when that verdict was announced. For the accused, their families and ambassadors from five countries at the court, it was harsh.
Mike Greste. Peter Greste’s Brother: “Its been an exhausting, stressful process for the whole family and six months down the track and it’s devastating”
The journalists were arrested last December on charges of falsifying news to incite violence, being affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood and filming without proper documents. Charges they always denied. Few locals sympathize with the journalists. They see the trial as a part of a necessary crackdown on those who support the Muslim Brotherhood. Some foreign media are calling on the European Union and the US to sever ties with Egypt. Others are calling on the new president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to use his constitutional powers to pardon the journalists.
Peter Greste’s: “The government says the trial is not politicized, that it respects the judiciary and doesn’t interfere in court verdicts. But this case has been received with contradicting emotions inside and outside Egypt”. “This is not the end for AlJazeera journalists. They still have a chance to appeal. It will be a long gruelling process for them to prove their innocence but also a test of Egypt’s will to protect freedoms of speech”.
But rights groups, the foreign media and some governments say the trial is a clear infringement of freedom of speech…that the evidence against the journalists was flimsy and the trial politicized. Shaaban Saeed, Lawyer, Human Rights Assc. Member says: “Of course it’s a harsh and unexpected sentence. The court did not take the defence evidence seriously. It is sending the wrong signals for all types of freedoms”