Three Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were sentenced by an Egyptian Court of law on Monday, June 23, 2014. The three were detained late in December last year in Cairo as they were covering the aftermath of the demise of the former President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi at the hands of Army.
Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste were sentenced to seven years in prison while Baher Mohamed, on additional charge of possessing a spent bullet casing, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Human Rights Organizations all over the world strongly condemned this act of injustice. The trial on the terrorism –related charges have been declared a politically motivated sham by the right wing in Egypt.
Al-Jazeera, the Doha-based broadcaster, is owned by Al-JAzeera Media Network which is controlled and funded by the House of Thani, a ruling elite in Egypt. It was initially launched for the coverage on current affairs and a mere Arabic new channel which later developed and was extended in several regions around the globe in various languages. Al-Jazeera has always maintained that the channel is independent of from the government of Qatar. And so has this channel created a number of controversies.
Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, a master-degree graduate from the University of Bath, England, is a native of Maldives and Chairman of Maldives Civil Service Commission. He evolved in the broadcasting agency in 1975 and has performed functions in various offices including some ministries. he has authored various books and scripts for radio and television in addition to teaching Journalism. Establishment of four school has also been under his credit. While working for Al-Jazeera, he maintained a sustainable reputation in thr broadcasting industry and has been a major-league Journalist for Al-Jazeera for many years.
Baher Mohamed is a young Journalist and very new to the broadcasting industry as well as to Al-Jazeera but this fact doesn’t negate the services he has rendered in such short career of his. Controversy might have prevailed in his news reporting and journalism in others view point but he himself called it a service for people as stated by him in an interview. He, unlike the other two journalists who were sentenced for seven years each, was sentenced to prison for a time of ten years on additional charge of possessing firearm.
Peter Greste, aged 49, is a Latvian-Australian based Journalist and correspondent who has in his penal the experience of channel which include Rueters, CNN, WTN and the BBC. He is a correspondent in Africa for AL-Jazeera. “Peabody Award” winning journalist, Peter Greste was also arrested in Cairo in December 2013 with the other two colleagues of his on the charge of news reporting which was considered detrimental to national security. “The idea that I could have an association with the Muslim Brotherhood is frankly preposterous” were his words during a hearing after he and his co-defendants made a request to the hearing Judge to release them.
Arrest and Sentence
In December 2013 the three Journalists were arrested on the charge of manipulating the footage to tarnish the image of Egypt and aiding of a group designated as terrorist by Cairo. Egyptian Court initiated proceedings against them on these alleged charges. On the 21st of February 2014 the three were refused bail and the court was adjourned that day. In the later days to come it was apparent on the face of record that the Egyptian Court of law might rule justly. But on 23rd of June 2014, the Court, very astonishingly, sentenced the three journalists. Two journalists, Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy were sentenced for a term of seven years in prison while the third on an additional charge of possessing weapon was jailed for a period of ten years.
Reactions after Conviction
The reaction around the globe was massive over the matter of conviction of the three journalists of Al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera declared the decision to be defying logic, sense and any semblance of justice. A blow on the freedom of expression which has saddened the hearts of almost all the persons connected with the field of journalism and correspondence. US and other government officials through the globe have shown deep concerns over the issue and have condemned the unjust act of the Egyptian Court. The three are thought to be affected by a politically driven sham.US Secretary of State, John Kerry, called the sentences “chilling and draconian”. The three journalists themselves have decided to file an appeal against the unjust ruling of the Court.
Is journalism a Crime in Egypt?
On 6th June 2014, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi acknowledged for the very first time that the conviction of the Al-Jazeera journalists had the very bad impact on the image of the country which is now globally thought to have no respect for the freedom of press. In his remarks he added that the three should not have been tried and could have been deported. This was somewhat positive after almost a fortnight long silence of the President over an issue so important. Some say it to be merely words without intent but international Community of journalists has acknowledged this and have demanded the freedom of the three journalists of Al-Jazeera.
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