An Egyptian court on Monday jailed three Al-Jazeera journalists accused of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, triggering international outcry, Agence France-Presse reported.
Australia’s award-winning Peter Greste and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy each got a seven-year term, while Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed received two sentences — one of seven years and another for three, the report said.
Eleven other defendants tried in absentia, including one Dutch journalist and two British journalists, were handed 10-year jail terms.
The verdict sparked global outrage and raised fears of growing media restrictions in Egypt.
US Secretary of State John Kerry described the ruling as “chilling and draconian”, AFP said.
“We call on the Egyptian government to pardon these individuals or commute their sentences so that they can be released immediately and to grant clemency for all politically motivated sentences,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest was quoted as saying.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: “We are deeply dismayed that a sentence has been imposed and appalled at the severity of it.”
UN rights chief Navi Pillay urged Egypt to promptly release the three, saying journalism “is not a crime”.
On Sunday an Egyptian court confirmed death sentences for more than 180 Islamists including Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohamed Badie.
Pillay slammed the mass trials and sentences as “obscene”, and urged Egypt to review its laws.
But the government insisted the “judiciary enjoys full independence”, adding that the convicts “still have the right to appeal”.
All of the defendants had been accused of aiding the blacklisted organization and tarnishing the country’s reputation after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by “spreading false news”.
The Qatari news network has been covering the government’s deadly crackdown on supporters of Morsi, who was ousted by the army in July 2013.
Greste is a former BBC reporter who won the 2011 Peabody Award for a documentary on Somalia, while Fahmy previously worked with CNN, AFP said.
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