An Egyptian court released a detailed ruling on Sunday on why it sentenced three journalists working for al-Jazeera English to three years in prison for airing what it described as “false news” and biased coverage. The case has long been criticised by press freedom campaigners and others.
The ruling, published by the state news agency Mena, said Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian national, Peter Greste, an Australian journalist, and BaherMohamed, an Egyptian producer, were by default members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, which Egyptian authorities consider a terrorist organisation.
“It has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the al-Jazeera media channel has dedicated its broadcasting to the service and support of the Muslim Brotherhood faction and that they have permanently sided with them at the expense of their media ethics,” the ruling said. “This provides enough ground for a conviction of belonging to a group based on violations of the law.”
The ruling also said the three operated without press credentials and secretly worked at the Marriott hotel in central Cairo without a permit. The journalists and the network deny the accusations. Al-Jazeera said it would appeal.
Al-Jazeera journalists sentenced to three years in prison by Egyptian court
After last weekend’s ruling, Mohamed and Fahmy were imprisoned, while Greste had been deported previously.
The case, which was widely condemned by the international community, has become an embarrassment for the Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
Last week, the human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who acts for Fahmy, said Sisi must pardon the men.