“Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Tuesday he will not interfere in court rulings, a day after three Al-Jazeera journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison in a verdict that prompted an international outcry,” the Associated Press reported from Cairo.
“The ruling, on terrorism-related charges, stunned their families and brought a landslide of condemnation and calls for el-Sissi to intervene.
“According to Egypt’s constitution, the president has the right to issue a pardon or commute the sentences. U.S., Australian and other officials have urged el-Sissi to use this right to immediately release the journalists. . . .”
Aided by reports from agencies in Cairo, Patrick Kingsley reported Monday for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “Egypt’s judiciary has dealt a shocking blow to the principle of free speech after three journalists for Al-Jazeera English were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in jail on charges of aiding terrorists and endangering national security.
“The former BBC correspondent Peter Greste, from Australia, the ex-CNN journalist Mohamed Fahmy, and local producer Baher Mohammed were jailed for seven, seven and 10 years respectively. Four students and activists indicted in the case were sentenced to seven years.
“The judge also handed 10-year sentences to British journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane and the Dutch journalist Rena Netjes, who were not in Egypt but being tried in absentia.
“The courtroom packed with journalists, diplomats and relatives erupted at the verdict which came despite what independent observers said was a complete lack of evidence.
“Shouting from the defendants’ cage as he was led away, Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian citizen, said: ‘They’ll pay for this’. Greste’s reaction could not be heard, but the faces of his two younger brothers — both present in court — were grim.
” ‘I’m just stunned,’ said Andrew Greste, as reporters were pushed from the courtroom. ‘It’s difficult to comprehend how they can have reached this decision.’