New York, August 29, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the conviction of three Al-Jazeera journalists in their retrial in Egypt today. A Cairo court sentenced Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, and Peter Greste to three years in prison each for “aiding a terrorist organization,” spreading false news, and working without a license, according to news reports. Baher Mohamed was sentenced to an additional six months in jail for possession of a spent bullet casing.
“This trial has been carried out with no evidence and has caused great pain to Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, Peter Greste, and their families,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said. “We call on Egyptian authorities to put an end to the abuse of the law which has made Egypt one of the riskiest countries in the world to be a journalist.”
The three journalists had been convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in June 2014 for “conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood,” which the government has banned. A retrial was ordered after a court said the journalists were convicted despite a lack of evidence, according to news reports. Greste, who is Australian, was retried in absentia.
The high-profile case is emblematic of the threats faced by journalists in Egypt. According to CPJ research, at least 22 journalists were behind bars for their reporting in Egypt on August 12, 2015. Most of the journalists jailed in Egypt are accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi said in late 2014 that he would consider pardoning the three Al-Jazeera journalists.
- For more data and analysis on Egypt, visit CPJ’s Egypt page.