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Egypt slams Qatari criticism of Morsi espionage case verdict

Qatar's foreign ministry spokesman Saturday branded the jail verdict against Morsi and other defendants 'unfounded and unjust'

Ahram Online , Sunday 19 Jun 2016
Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, wearing a red jumpsuit that designates he has been sentenced to death, is guarded by a policeman inside a defendants cage in a makeshift courtroom at the national police academy, in an eastern suburb of Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, June 18, 2016 (AP)

Egypt's foreign ministry slammed Sunday the reaction of its Qatari counterpart to the court verdict against former president Mohamed Morsi in what is known as the Qatar espionage case.

"Such claims can never harm the lofty Egyptian judiciary," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement.   

On Saturday, Morsi was sentenced to 40 yaers in prison in the case.

Shortly after the verdict was announced on Saturday, Ahmed El-Remihi, Qatari foreign ministry spokesperson, told the Qatar News Agency Saturday that, "It is not surprising for us to see such verdicts reached by Egyptian courts, especially that during the past two years more than 1,000 people received death sentences and life imprisonment, to be later overturned by Egyptian Courts of Cassation."

El-Remihi added that the espionage charges against Morsi and nine other defendants, including a number of journalists, were "unacceptable" to Doha.

Qatar, which was a vocal critic of the ouster of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from power, a key ally of Doha, rejected what it called "attempts to implicate" it in spying without foundation, saying the verdict was "not just."

"The release of this statement is not surprising for us, especially from those who devoted resources and efforts over the past years to directing [Qatar's] media for the sake of antagonising the Egyptian people and [Egypt's] state institutions," Abu Zeid said in a statement Sunday.

Morsi, who was ousted in July 2013, was charged with using his post to leak classified documents to Qatar with the help of journalists Khaled Radwan and Asmaa El-Khatib.

Copies of the classified documents were passed to two staffers of the Doha-based Al-Jazeera satellite channel, and an unnamed Qatari intelligence officer.

Both journalists were sentenced to death in absentia, along with Ibrahim Helal, a senior journalist for Al-Jazeera.

All verdicts against the defendants can be appealed, though verdicts reached in absentia can only be appealed if defendants turn themselves over to authorities.


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