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EU condemns Al-Jazeera journalists jail sentences

The European Union deems the Al-Jazeera journalists trial outcome as a "setback" for freedom of expression in Egypt

Ahram Online , Sunday 30 Aug 2015
Catherine Ray
EU spokesperson Catherine Ray (Photo: Courtesy of the European Commission website)

The European Union has criticised the three-year jail sentences handed to three Al-Jazeera journalists at the end of their retrial Saturday describing it as "a setback" for freed speech in Egypt.

“Today's sentencing of Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed represents a setback for freedom of expression in Egypt,” said EU spokesperson Catherine Ray in a statement issued Saturday. 

In the statement, released on the official EU website, the EU spokesperson added that Peter Greste's sentencing in absentia further calling into question the credibility of the trial process. 

"It is in breach of Egypt's obligations under international law,” Ray added.

Ray also added: “We look forward to the appeals process and reiterate our call for the release of the defendants.”

Australian journalist Peter Greste is also a citizen of Latvia, which is a member in the EU.

Greste was deported in February 2015 under the terms of a presidential decree issued by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi the previous year which allows foreign nationals to continue their pretrial detention or post-trial prison sentences in their home countries.

On Saturday, a Cairo court sentenced six defendants, including three Al-Jazeera journalists and three students, to three years in prison in the Al-Jazeera retrial case, known in the Egyptian media as "The Marriott Case."

The sentence has created an international outcry from several countries and organisations, including Canada, the UK, Australia and the United Nations.

Egypt's ministry of foreign affairs said on Sunday that it completely rejects the statements issued by foreign entities criticising the Al-Jazeera staff prison sentences.

In a statement issued on Sunday on its official Facebook page, the Egyptian foreign ministry labeled this criticism "politically motivated”, considering it an "unacceptable interference" in the Egyptian judiciary.

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