The Egyptian judiciary system hit the freedom of speech of journalists after sentencing 3 Al-Jazeera English journalists to sentences between 7 and 10 year in jail. The charges were endangering national security and aiding terrorists.
Those that were sentenced were Peter Greste (former BBC correspondent), Mohamed Fahmy (former CNN journalist) and local Baher Mohammed, producer. Mohammed got 10 years and the others got 7 year. In addition, 4 activists and students that were indicted in the same case received 7 years in jail.
The journalists did receive support from many countries and through social media. The prosecutors claimed that the journalists aided terrorists.
Tony Abbott, Australia’s Prime Minister, issued a plea to the Egyptian president in which he claimed that Greste was innocent. Abbott is a former journalist and said about Greste in a talk with the Egyptian president:
“I did make the point that as an Australian journalist, Peter Greste, would not have been supporting the Muslim Bortherhood, he would have simply been reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The reaction of rights campaigners and diplomats was one of disbelief. Larry King, Australian ambassador in Cairo declared:
“On the basis of the evidence that we’ve seen, we can’t understand the verdict. We will make our feelings clear to the Egyptian government and we will continue to provide all possible consular assistance.”
The evidence that was provided included video footage from events and channels that were not connected to Al-Jazeera or Egyptian politics. The worldwide outrage comes as footage included a song by Gotye, a Somalia BBC documentary and a video of trotting horses that appeared on Sky News Arabia.
As journalism’s basic rights are broken in Egypt through a sentencing that shocked the world and that was done without any proof, it is not known what can be done now. An appeal can be made but it will most likely fail without pressure from diplomats in other countries.