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By Amro Hassan and Laura King, Los Angeles Times

CAIRO — An Egyptian judge on Monday sentenced three journalists for the Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera to between seven and 10 years in prison on terrorism-related charges, stunning their supporters and raising an immediate outcry from human rights advocates.

The harsh sentence came only a day after U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry visited Cairo and told Egyptian officials that the Obama administration would like to see the men freed. The charges against the journalists are widely viewed as politicized, stemming from Egypt’s anger over Qatari criticism of the Egyptian military’s deposing of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last summer.

The three — Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed — all work for Al Jazeera’s English-language service. All have strongly denied any wrongdoing.

In addition to a seven-year sentence on charges that included spreading false news and harming Egypt’s security, Mohammed, an Egyptian national, received an additional three-year term on a charge of possessing ammunition.

The judge also handed down 10-year sentences against three foreign journalists — two Britons and a Dutch national — who were tried in absentia. Two work for Al Jazeera, but the Dutch journalist, who has left Egypt, had no connection to the broadcaster.

Among other defendants in the case, two were acquitted and four others received seven-year sentences.

AFP Photo/Aris Messinis

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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The baseless claim that the FBI may have planted evidence while carrying out a court-approved search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on Monday has surged through right-wing media, as the former president’s allies continue their effort to turn their audiences against the probe and shield Trump from accountability.

The FBI searched the premises after obtaining a warrant from a federal magistrate judge and “removed a number of boxes of documents” as part of a federal investigation into whether Trump had illegally “taken a trove of material with him to his home at Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House that included sensitive documents – and then, in the Justice Department’s view, had failed to fully comply with requests that he return the disputed material,” the New York Times reported. Politico concluded after consulting with legal experts on the handling of classified documents that “it’s highly unlikely the DOJ would have pursued – and a judge would have granted – such a politically explosive search warrant without extraordinary evidence.”

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