In the latest chapter of a case that has outraged the world, an Egyptian court sentenced three journalists working for Al Jazeera to prison on Saturday.
Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste were all given three-year sentences. It is actually the second conviction handed down against the three men. They had been freed following a successful appeal of the earlier sentence, which prompted a retrial. Greste, who was deported from Egypt to Australia earlier this year, was tried in absentia. Mohamed and Fahmy will be returned to an Egyptian prison.
The judge, Hassan Farid, said that the journalists did not have proper credentials and, according to the New York Times, that they had broadcast "false news" about Egypt.
Fahmy's wife broke down in tears when the verdict was announced:
The pursuit of the Al Jazeera journalists has been denounced as a transparent attack on press freedom and on Al Jazeera. The network has been a particular target of Egypt's dictatorship because it is seen as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood party, an arch-rival of the current government. Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, came to power in 2013 after ousting the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi in a bloody coup.
Prosecutors in the initial trial barely made any attempt to prove that the three journalists had committed a crime beyond working for a certain news outlet. Lawyers used footage of horses and pictures of Greste's parents as evidence of the defendants' treachery.
Amal Clooney, the lawyer representing Fahmy, told reporters that Saturday's verdict was a "dangerous" one. She said that she would press for Fahmy to be given a full pardon.
“It sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news," she said.
Al Jazeera also condemned the verdict. "There is no evidence proving that our colleagues in any way fabricated news or aided and abetted terrorist organizations and at no point during the long drawn out retrial did any of the unfounded allegations stand up to scrutiny," the network said in a statement.
From Australia, Greste tweeted his extreme displeasure, writing, "Shocked. Outraged. Angry. Upset. None of them convey how I feel right now."