CPJ condemns harsh prison sentences for journalists in Egypt

New York, June 23, 2014–A Cairo court today sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists to lengthy prison terms on terrorism-related charges, according to news reports. Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Peter Greste were given seven-year terms, while Baher Mohamed was given 10 years in prison. Three other international journalists–Sue Turton and Dominic Kane of Al-Jazeera and Rena Netjes, a correspondent for Dutch newspaper Parool–were sentenced in absentia to 10 years, reports said. The journalists are expected to appeal, reports said.

“These convictions are shocking, and an extremely disturbing sign for the future of the Egyptian press,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’S Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator. “Authorities must release the journalists immediately and overturn the verdict on appeal.”

CPJ has repeatedly called on the Egyptian government and newly elected President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to do all they can to see that all journalists being held in Egypt, including the three Al-Jazeera staff members jailed since December, are set free. At least 14 journalists are behind bars in Egypt, according to CPJ research. More than 65 journalists have been detained since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July, according to CPJ research. Most have been freed.