Egyptian court sentences two Al Jazeera journalists to death for ‘espionage for Qatar’

Published May 8th, 2016 - 07:00 GMT
Journalists stand in the defendants' cage in a 2014 trial in Egypt. (AFP/File)
Journalists stand in the defendants' cage in a 2014 trial in Egypt. (AFP/File)

An Egyptian court recommended death sentences on Saturday for six people, including two Al-Jazeera journalists, on charges of supplying Egyptian national secrets to the government of Qatar.

Giza Criminal court adjourned the trial of the "espionage for Qatar" case until June 18 while the grand mufti considers the death sentences and either approves or rejects them. Egyptian law requires the mufti to sign off on death sentences. His opinion is not binding but is usually respected by courts.

Another five men accused in the case, including former Egyptian Presdient Mohamed Morsi, will be sentenced when the court reconvenes in June.

The six suspects facing death sentences are Ahmed Ali Abdo Afify, Mohamed Adel Kilany, Ahmed Ismail, Asmaa Mohamed al-Khateeb, Alaa Omar Mohamed Seblan and Ibrahim Mohamed Helal.

Qatar was a key backer of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement while he was in power between 2012 and July 2013, when the military overthrew and detained him. He has since been sentenced to death, life in prison and 20 years in three separate trials.

The eleven suspects were referred to court in September 2014, accused of seizing classified national security intelligence and delivering it to Qatari intelligence and the Qatari news network Al Jazeera, which Egyptian authorities consider to be an extention of Qatar's foreign policy.

Egyptian-Qatari ties have been strained since Morsi's military ouster, due in large part to the Gulf nation's support for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group, which has now been branded a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government.


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