Egypt court sentences Al Jazeera journalists to 3 yrs in prison

  • Agencies, Cairo
  • Updated: Aug 29, 2015 23:09 IST
A picture taken on March 8, 2015 in Cairo shows Al-Jazeera's Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed and Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy leaving an Egyptian court after their retrial for allegedly supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood was adjourned. (AFP PHOTO)

An Egyptian court sentenced three Al Jazeera TV journalists to three years in prison on Saturday for operating without a press license and broadcasting material harmful to the country, a case that has triggered an international outcry.

The verdict in a retrial was issued against Mohamed Fahmy, a naturalised Canadian who has given up his Egyptian citizenship, Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, and Australian Peter Greste, who was deported in February.

Al Jazeera called the verdict a deliberate attack on press freedom.

"I have done nothing wrong. I was just doing my job," producer Mohamed had told AFP earlier.

The three journalists were arrested in December 2013 during a crackdown on supporters of Morsi, who was ousted by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after mass street protests against his sole year of divisive rule.

The initial trial came against the backdrop of strained ties between Egypt and Qatar, which supported Morsi's government.

The journalists were also accused of working without valid media accreditation.

Fahmy has since lashed out at Al Jazeera, accusing it of negligence and backing the Brotherhood. He has sued the network for $100 million.

Al-Jazeera has repeatedly denounced the trials as "political".

The network's Arabic-language channel had condemned Morsi's removal and the subsequent police crackdown that left hundreds of people dead and thousands jailed.

Rights groups say journalists in Egypt are facing unprecedented threats from the regime installed by Sisi.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 18 journalists are locked up in Egypt, the most since it began keeping records in 1990.

"As long as there are journalists in jail, we can't say that freedom of press is respected in Egypt," producer Mohamed said.

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