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The jailing of three Al-Jazeera journalists, and the sentencing in absentia of their colleagues, by an Egyptian court, has provoked an international outcry and raised fears of growing media restrictions in Egypt.
The verdict confirms the trial was an attempt to silence and intimidate media voices. Award-winning Al Jazeera correspondent, Peter Greste, who is Australian, was sentenced to seven years. He said he was “devastated and outraged by the verdict” and that Egypt’s state prosecutor had “consistently failed to present a single piece of concrete evidence” against him. He said his lawyers “highlighted countless procedural errors, irregularities and abuses of due process that should have had the entire case thrown out of court many times over”. Baher Mohamed was sentenced to three years for possession of a spent-bullet casing that he picked up off the ground during a protest. Other Al Jazeera journalists were tried in absentia, including Sue Turton, Rena Netjes and Dominic Kane, and each sentenced to 10 years. Calling for their immediate release, Al-Jazeera has denied all charges of spreading false news and of joining the Muslim Brotherhood. Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore should pledge to do all in his power to help.
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