Media companies slam sentence handed down to Al Jazeera journalists

By AdNews | 24 June 2014

Media companies have slammed the sentencing of three Al Jazeera English journalists in Egypt overnight.

Australian reporter Peter Greste and Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy were both sentenced to seven years overnight while their colleague Al Jazeera producer Baher Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years gaol for producing false news to defame Egypt.

Al Anstey, Al Jazeera English managing director, said the verdicts defied "logic, sense, and any semblance of justice" in a statement via the Al Jazeera English website.

"Today three colleagues and friends were sentenced, and will continue to be kept behind bars for doing a brilliant job of being great journalists. 'Guilty' of covering stories with great skill and integrity. 'Guilty' of defending people’s right to know what is going on in their world," Anstey said.

A News Corp Australia spokesman told AdNews that this is a shocking result and one that is totally at odds with a free press.

"News Corp Australia and our journalists stand with Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. Our thoughts are with them and their families. We hope that justice and common sense will prevail.”

The industry body for newspapers, The Newspaper Works has also come out in support of the journalists, with CEO Mark Hollands saying “We deplore the sentences of imprisonment against these journalists.”

“All actions by any government designed to restrict press freedom and the public’s right to know should and must be fought.”

A spokesperson for Fairfax Media said: "Fairfax Media fully supports the earlier statement today from The Newspaper Works."

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop told Sky News “The Australian government is shocked at the verdict in the Peter Greste case.”

“We are deeply dismayed by the fact that a sentence has been imposed and we are appalled by the severity of it,” she said.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry described the sentences as "chilling” and “draconian" while British Foreign Secretary, William Hague has scheduled a meeting to discuss the matter with the Egyptian Ambassador.

The MEAA (Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance) released a statement via its website stating that: “The verdict of the court, despite the lack of evidence and bizarre court proceedings over more than a dozen hearings, is an appalling attack on press freedom and carries an implicit threat to all media working in Egypt.”

Former Prime Ministers, politicians, media personalities and news organisations have take to twitter to tweet their support for the journalists with the #FreeAJStaff.

The group have been in custody since December 29.

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