Amal Clooney furious over Egypt's decision to imprison Al Jazeera journalists

Published August 30th, 2015 - 08:29 GMT
Amal Clooney lashes out at Egypt after Al-Jazeera journalists are imprisoned. (AFP)
Amal Clooney lashes out at Egypt after Al-Jazeera journalists are imprisoned. (AFP)

Amal Clooney has warned that the three-year sentence handed down to Al-Jazeera journalists 'sends a very dangerous message'.

The human rights lawyer and wife of actor George Clooney attended the courtroom in Tora prison in Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday as the Defence lawyer for Canadian journalist Mohammed Fahmy.

Mr Fahmy was on trial alongside Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed in retrial on charges of allegedly airing falsified footage intended to damage national security and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

'We're obviously very disappointed about the verdict today,' Ms Clooney told reporters immediately after the verdict.

'Everyone has said there is no evidence to sustain any of the charges.

'Egypt's own Supreme Court, when they looked at this case they said there wasn't sufficient evidence.

Ms Clooney said that the verdict, 'sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news.

'And it sends a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political repression and propaganda.'  

Ms Clooney added that the only 'genuinely fair' result in court would have been the full acquittal on all charges. 

Australian Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy from Canada, and Baher Mohamed from Egypt were handed the verdict on Saturday after they were detained in December 2013.

Mr Greste was tried in absentia, and will reportedly avoid prison, according to the ABC.

The Australian journalist hit back at the verdict of the retrial, who was watching online from Sydney.

'Shocked. Outraged. Angry. Upset,' the Australian journalist wrote on Twitter, adding that the three-year sentence 'is so wrong'. 

'We did nothing wrong. The prosecution presented no evidence that we did anything wrong and so for us to be convicted as terrorists on no evidence at all is frankly outrageous," he said on Saturday evening.

'We need also to call on international pressure, on governments and diplomats around the world, to make it clear to Egypt that it cannot make these kinds of judgements,' according to the ABC.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement that she was 'dismayed' by the 'distressing' verdict.

'I will continue to pursue all diplomatic avenues with my Egyptian counterpart to clear his name,' Ms Bishop said. 

Al-Jazeera's Acting Director General, Dr Mostefa Souag, said in a statement that: 'Today's verdict defies logic and common sense'.

'Today's verdict is yet another deliberate attack on press freedom.'

'Journalism is not a crime,' the Al-Jazeera statement finished. 

Prior to the verdict, Greste had said he was 'staying hopeful', and thanked supporters who had stuck by him throughout the ordeal.

'Hoping today's results will be fair and objective! We did nothing wrong and should be acquitted!' Mr Greste wrote on Twitter.

Judge Hassan Farid, who handed down the sentence, said he did so because the journalists allegedly weren't registered with the country's journalist syndicate, according to Yahoo

The three journalists had been working for Al-Jazeera English and were originally sentenced to seven-years in prison before Egypt's highest court ordered a retrial on charges of them allegedly airing falsified footage intended to damage national security and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

After a long-running trial criticised worldwide by press freedom and human rights activists, Mr Greste was deported from Egypt in February.

Mr Fahmy and Mr Mohamed were later released on bail.

Mr Mohamed had originally received the larger sentence of 10 years, but received an extra six months on the retrial's verdict for possessing a single bullet, according to the ABC.

All pictures are courtesy of AFP


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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