Egypt jails Jazeera journalists for up to 10 years
CAIRO - Agence France-Presse
Al-Jazeera channel's Australian journalist Peter Greste (L) and Egyptian journalist Mohamed Baher stand inside the defendants cage during their trial for allegedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood at the police institute near Cairo's Tora prison on June 1, 2014. AFP PhotoAn Egyptian court Monday sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists including Australian Peter Greste to jail terms ranging from seven to 10 years after accusing them of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.
Greste and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy each got seven years, while producer Baher Mohamed received two sentences -- one for seven years and another for three years.
Al-Jazeera slammed the desicion.
"We condemn... this kind of unjust verdict," the network's chief Mustafa Sawaq told the satellite news channel after a Cairo court jailed the three in a case that has caused international outrage.
"We are shocked," he said, charging that evidence provided by the prosecution "was not enough to jail someone for a single day".
Sawaq also said the journalists had been working openly with "nothing disguised" about their output which was broadcast openly on the Al-Jazeera English channel.
Britain summons Egyptian ambassador
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday it was summoning Egypt's ambassador over the prison sentences handed down to journalists working for Al-Jazeera.
"I have instructed officials to summon the Egyptian Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today," Hague said in a statement.
A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "completely appalled" by the verdicts.
The three were among 20 defendants in a trial that has triggered international outrage amid fears of growing media restrictions in Egypt.
Eleven defendants who were tried in absentia, including three foreign journalists, were given 10-year sentences.
Of the six defendants in custody along with the three journalists, four were sentenced to seven years and two were acquitted.
Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the authorities have been incensed by the Qatari network's coverage of their deadly crackdown on his supporters.
They consider Al-Jazeera to be the voice of Qatar, and accuse Doha of backing Morsi's Brotherhood, while the emirate openly denounces the repression of the Islamist movement's supporters which has killed more than 1,400 people.
Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed have been in custody for nearly six months, along with six others.
Al-Jazeera says only nine of the 20 defendants are on its staff, including two foreign reporters who are abroad.
Dutch woman journalist Rena Netjes, not with the satellite channel, was among the defendants sentenced in absentia to 10 years.
Sixteen defendants are Egyptians who were accused of belonging to the Brotherhood, which the authorities designated a "terrorist organisation" in December.
The four foreigners were also alleged to have collaborated with and assisted their Egyptian co-defendants by providing media material, as well as editing and broadcasting it.
The authorities also say the accused journalists were operating without valid accreditation.