Last Update 23:0
UPDATE 3: Al Jazeera journalists get 7-10 years in jail
Six defendants in Al Jazeera trial are handed seven years in prison, one receives 10 years and two are acquitted
El-Sayed Gamal El-Din, Ayat Al-Tawy, Monday 23 Jun 2014
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Al Jazeera journalists
Al Jazeera producer Baher Mohamed, left, and correspondent Peter Greste, centre, are being held in Egypt (Photo: AP)

Three Al Jazeera journalists who have been held in Egypt since December have been sentenced to seven years in jail, according to Ahram Online's reporter at the courthouse.

The three defendants are Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed. They have been on trial along with 17 others on charges of "spreading false news," falsely portraying Egypt as being in a state of "civil war," as well as aiding or joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

In addition to his seven-year sentence, Baher Mohamed was handed an extra three-year term as well as an LE5,000 fine for possessing ammunition.

The case, which began on 20 February and spanned over 12 hearings, has provoked fears about the future of media freedom and the muzzling of political dissent in Egypt. Local and global rights watchdogs, as well as international news organisations, have repeatedly called for the release of the detained journalists.

Four other defendants have been sentenced to seven years in jail while two -- including the son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy -- have been acquitted.

Nine of the 20 defendants are in custody, while the 11 co-defendants who are being tried in absentia received 10-year terms each, judicial sources said.

Sixteen of the defendants are Egyptians accused of joining the Brotherhood -- designated by Egyptian authorities as a "terrorist organisation". 

The four foreigners in the case--including Greste, two Britons and a Dutch national--face allegations of assisting and collaborating with the Egyptian co-defendants by providing money, media material and equipment, as well as publishing lies harming national interests.

Egypt authorities have been infuriated by the coverage of the Qatar-based satellite network Al Jazeera since the ouster of Islamist president Mohame Morsi last year.

The network has contributed to straining ties between Cairo and Doha, a staunch supporter of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group.

Al Jazeera has repeatedly dismissed the charges against its journalists and called for their immediate release.

The network said that the prosecution produced an assortment of non-relevant items as evidence, including a BBC podcast and "a news report made while none of the accused were in Egypt". 

Monday's sentences come almost a week after authorities granted medical release to Abdullah El-Shamy, an Al Jazeera Arabic channel journalist who had been on hunger strike for nearly five months to protest his detention. El-Shamy was seen outside the makeshift court at Torah Prison in southern Cairo on Monday, Ahram Online reporter said.

The Doha-based network says only nine of the 20 defendants are on its staff, including six among those tried in absentia.

Australia said on Monday it was "appalled" by the verdict against its national Greste.

"The Australian government is shocked at the verdict," AFP quoted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as saying. "We are deeply dismayed that a sentence has been imposed and appalled at the severity of it."

Greste was found guilty despite Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's lobbying Egypt's new leader Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in the weekend for the release of the detained journalist.

Abbott said El-Sisi understood the situation.

“I assured him – as a former journalist myself – that Peter Greste would have been reporting the Muslim Brotherhood, not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood,” Abbott told the Seven Network on Monday, as quoted by Australian media.

"I think he understands that this would be a PR coup for the new government if Peter Greste is not dealt with severely," Abbott said, adding: "I made it as clearly as I could and I think he understood me."





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8



Allen
24-06-2014 04:13am
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122+
Journalists???
We only have biased propaganda now days, be it from CNN, BBC, NBC, CBS etc... So when you go into the heart of a nation struggling with home grown terrorists. AND set up to become the mouth peace of terrorists by the Qatari regime. Then you are a participant to the crimes of the terrorists by encouraging them on. I am sorry for these journalists that got cought in the dirty work on behalf of Qatar.... They should have known better and resigned before they became accessory to the crimes committed by the brotherhood.
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7



mark
23-06-2014 10:06pm
7-
131+
.
Those jumping to the defence of the AJ journalists should have actually watched the AJ reports they were sending around the world. Creating a totally false image of what was actually happening in Egypt. All you have to do is google Al Jazeera and Bias and you will see evidence of their espionage-esque behaviour. Peter Greste should have had more integrity as a journalist before he want to Ra'baa to peddle the message of Muslim Brotherhood.
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6



Sami
23-06-2014 07:09pm
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128+
Al Jazeera is guilty of incitement; not the journalists
True Al Jazeera is guilty of incitement but I don't think the journalists are. They are being used as scapegoats for the sins of Al Jazeera who are irresponsible and controlled by Qatar who help terrorists.
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5



decs
23-06-2014 06:16pm
4-
142+
They deserve to be punsh
They suppose to tell the truth as a journalist but what did they do? That' s why never I would ever watch Al jazeera again! They deserve to be punish!.....SEVERELY!
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4



Micha
23-06-2014 04:01pm
469-
164+
Uncivilised
Treating journalists like this means Egypt is just uncivilised. Or what does freedom of speech means?
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3



Charles Worringham
23-06-2014 03:43pm
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134+
Dr
What a terrible day for democracy, justice and media freedom in Egypt - as well as for the journalists themselves. Egypt's future looks grim if journalists can be found guily for doing their jobs after such a farcical "trials".
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2



M
23-06-2014 01:14pm
267-
154+
Injustice
Australians will not rest until these innocent men are free.
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Ture
23-06-2014 04:01pm
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Electronic news media is more dangerous than Nuclear weapons
International News Media is worst than nuclear bombs, we can learn.
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ayman
23-06-2014 12:11pm
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Just
Reasonable sentence. Information is a dangerous tool, as such, people working in the media have to act professionally. These "journalists" were raging about civil war in the midst of a political crisis in an attempt to get the ball rolling and incite it. Such inflammatory and systematically subversive behavior by Al-Jazeera "journalists" went far beyond simply reporting news and into trying to shape it as they want. And that is definitely worthy of punishment.
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