A judge in Egypt today delivered a verdict in the trial of three news reporters from Al Jazeera English. They are sentenced to three years in prison, on charges widely believed to be politically motivated and otherwise baseless.
From the New York Times account:
The verdict on Saturday was especially stunning because Egyptian officials had repeatedly signaled that they viewed the trial as a nuisance that had brought unwanted scrutiny of the government. The families of the journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, said they had expected that the men would either be exonerated on Saturday or sentenced to time already served.
But instead, the judge, Hassan Farid, upheld what human rights advocates said was among many baseless accusations leveled during the journalists’ long legal odyssey: that they had “broadcast false news” about Egypt on Al Jazeera.
Outrage at the verdict is widespread, and sparked a flood of social media condemnation.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney (who is also the wife of actor George Clooney) represented Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, one of the three jailed reporters. The men were first charged in 2013 for allegedly being a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and airing faked footage with the intent of harming national security.
"The verdict today sends a very dangerous message in Egypt," said Clooney after the ruling. "It sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news."