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