Outrage at Greste, al Jazeera sentences

Politicians and media organisations have expressed outrage at the sentencing of Australian journalist Peter Greste and his two al-Jazeera colleagues to three years’ jail in Egypt.

The three journalists were convicted on the weekend of colluding with the banned Muslim Brotherhood to produce reports containing “false news” and working without a press licence.

Mr Greste was deported to Australia in February and watched the proceedings live in Sydney.

“This is unjust. This is unethical. This is immoral on so many levels. This cannot be allowed to stand. And so we will do everything we can to fight the verdict, to clear our names,” Mr Greste said in a video posted by al-Jazeera.

“We need also to call on international pressure on governments and diplomats around the world to make it clear to Egypt that it cannot make these kinds of judgements. It cannot be allowed to get away with this.”

Mr Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were first arrested in Cairo in 2013 while working for the al-Jazeera Media network, leading to accusations of a government clampdown on press freedoms.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government was deeply concerned about the conviction and said on The Today Show: “We’ll do everything we can to have Peter Greste’s name cleared … he has suffered enough”

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the Labor Party, Australians Greens Richard Di Natale, as well as journalists from across the world took to Twitter and used the hashtag #FreeAJStaff to express their anger at the decision

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were first arrested in Cairo in 2013.

A spokesperson for Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Abu Zeid, said the convictions were unrelated to issues about press freedom.

“Egypt rejects any foreign criticism of judicial verdicts, considers it unacceptable intrusion in ruling of Egyptian judiciary,” he said on Twitter.

Al-Jazeera said it would continue to fight for the journalists’ freedom and would not rest until all three were freed and acquitted of their charges.

Dr Mostefa Souag, al-Jazeera’s Media Network’s acting director general, said the verdicts were yet another deliberate attack on press freedom. “It is a dark day for the Egyptian judiciary; rather than defend liberties and a free and fair media, they have compromised their independence for political reasons,” he said

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