CAIRO: Cairo is deflected as “unacceptable”a barrage of international criticism for a three-year jail sentence Saturday against Al-Jazeera journalists over “charges of publishing false news.”
“The ongoing attempts[…] to allude that there is restriction on freedom of the press are merely allegations contradict with reality; there are thousands of Egyptian journalists and non-Egyptians working in Egypt freely,” said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid Sunday in a statement.
“The defendants in the case of ‘Marriott cell’ (the name is used in Arabic media as they were arrested in Marriott hotel in 2013) committed specific and documented violations against the law.”
Al-Jazeera English journalists Australian Peter Greste in absentia and Canadian Mohamed Fahmy (who has since left the network) were sentenced to 3 years in prison, while their Egyptian colleague Baher Mohamed was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison Saturday morning for “reporting false news.” In June 2014, the three were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison; an appeal court abolished the sentence in January “due to lack of evidence” and ordered a retrial.
International media freedom organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Amnesty International, condemned Saturday the court “unfair” ruling.United States, UK, Netherlands, and Australia expressed their concerns about the court verdict.