Commenting on today’s Al Jazeera verdict, Thomas Hughes, ARTICLE 19’s Executive Director said: ‘Journalists are in the front line of the Egyptian government’s campaign against free expression. Six journalists have been killed in the past eleven months – while they were doing their jobs, and because they were doing their jobs. Many more are in jail. Unfair trials and harsh sentences, such as those handed down to Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste, are part of a campaign to restrict everybody’s freedom.’
Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste are three journalists working for Al Jazeera English TV channel. Today, all three were sentenced to seven years jail for doing their job as journalists. After an unfair trial, they were convicted of ‘falsifying news’ and with joining or helping the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt. Baher Mohamed got a further three years on a separate charge, and the judge also handed 10-year sentences to the British journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane and the Dutch journalist Rena Netjes in absentia.
Egypt’s military took over the country in July 2013, and thousands of people have been arrested for their opinions or their participation in protests since then. Mass death sentences have been handed out to hundreds of protestors. Egypt has elected a new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was inaugurated this month, but the campaign of repression shows no signs of abating.