UK, Canada & United States Condemn 7-Year Imprisonment of Al Jazeera Journalist
By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | June 24, 2014 12:05 PM EST
Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy who works for Al Jazeera English was sentenced to 7-year imprisonment in Egypt, and the ruling has enraged the international community. Governments, human rights groups and journalists have started condemning the court decision as there seems to be no credible evidence of Fahmy's wrongdoing.
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed (L to R) listen to a ruling at a court in Cairo June 23, 2014. The three Al Jazeera journalists were jailed for seven years in Egypt on Monday after the court convicted them of helping a "terrorist organization" by spreading lies, in a case that has raised questions about the country's respect for media freedoms.
Fahmy was termed guilty of terrorism-related charges on Monday, June 23. His family believed it is "ridiculous" to consider the journalist to be guilty of such acts, CTV News reported. Even the international community finds it difficult to digest such a decision. "I am appalled by the guilty verdicts handed down today against Egyptian and international journalists in Egypt," UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said, "I am particularly concerned by unacceptable procedural shortcomings during the trial process, including that key prosecution evidence was not made available to the defence team."
The White House, meanwhile, demanded that Fahmy should be released. Calling the verdict "incompatible with the basic precepts of human rights and democratic governance," spokesperson Josh Earnest raised objection to the ruling.
Lynne Yelich, Canada's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Consular Issues, said that she was "disappointed" with the court's decision. "Senior Canadian officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and myself, have raised and will continue to raise Mr Fahmy's case with senior Egyptian authorities," Yelich said. "We will continue to provide consular assistance to Mr Fahmy, including engaging local Egyptian authorities to ensure his medical needs are being met."
The Globe and Mail reported that Fahmy's brother Adel found the verdict "really really terrible." "This is the worst-case scenario, what happened today," Adel said, "We didn't even slightly expect it because everything was so positive and encouraging leading up to day. It was a complete shock."
Australian journalist Peter Greste was earlier jailed for seven years. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said before the verdict that he had spoken to the Egyptian president and told him that Australian journalist Peter Greste was innocent. "I did make the point that, as an Australian journalist, Peter Greste would not have been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, he would have simply been reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood," Abbott said.
Two other British journalists, Dominic Kane and Sue Turton, are under trial at the moment.
Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au
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