I genuinely had no words to describe my initial reaction to the verdict on Saturday.
Egyptian Baher Mohamed, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste were all found guilty of aiding a “terrorist organisation” (a reference to the now banned Muslim Brotherhood), and sentenced to 3 years in prison. For doing their job.
— lyse doucet (@bbclysedoucet) August 29, 2015
In reaction to the verdict, Al Jazeera’s Acting Director General Dr Mostefa Sourag said: “Today’s verdict defies logic and common sense.
Our colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy will now have to return to prison, and Peter Greste is sentenced in absentia.”
In a trial with no evidence of wrong doing, our convictions can only be politically motivated. We will keep fighting to #FreeAJStaff
— Peter Greste (@PeterGreste) August 29, 2015
Speaking in Sydney, Peter Greste said: “In the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing, the only conclusion that we can come to is that this verdict was politically motivated,
President Sisi now has an opportunity to undo that injustice, to correct that injustice. The eyes of the world are on Egypt.
It is now up to President Sisi to do what he said he would do from the outset and that is pardon us if we were ever convicted.”
Since the initial arrest in December 2013 there have been global cries for the release of Fahmy, Mohamed and Greste using the hashtags #freeajstaff and #jounalismisnotacrime. Saturday’s verdict has been criticised by numerous countries and organisations, including the EU, the UN, Canada, the UK, the US, and Australia.
— Baher Mohamed (@Bahrooz) August 19, 2015
In February of this year, Greste was suddenly deported from Egypt and returned to his native Australia, since he was tried in absentia he will obviously not be serving the prison sentence, Fahmy and Mohamed were taken from the court back into prison.
Apart from the ‘trial’ having no evidence to prove the charges, the evidence they did present was nothing short of laughable.
There was no attempt to even try and hide the political motivations behind the trial. The only benefit for Egypt at all is that the clear message to every journalist in Egypt to toe the approved line or this will happen to you too, and that message has been listened too.
As I mentioned in another article, this is not the only case where this is happening, it just happens to be the most high profile at the moment. Journalists and bloggers have been doing their job and are being punished for it.
It would have made sense if the case was thrown out, the message would still have gotten through. To the outside world, this is just an embarrassment for Egypt. President Sisi could have easily intervened and ended this, thus limiting any damage to Egypt’s reputation. Now three innocent men have been sentenced to prison, two are serving out that sentence, and Egypt’s reputation (which was not brilliant to begin with) is now almost non-existent.
Keep shouting for us my colleagues I’m sorry. from now on will not be able to keep in touch with you #FreeAJStaff
— Baher Mohamed (@Bahrooz) August 29, 2015