UK Summons Egypt Envoy, Appalled by ‘Unacceptable’ Verdicts on Journalists

UK Foreign Secretary appalled by an Egyptian court returning guilty verdicts against Egyptian and international journalists.

Reacting to the verdict, Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement on Monday:

“I am appalled by the guilty verdicts handed down today against Egyptian and international journalists in Egypt. Amongst those found guilty were two British journalists, Sue Turton and Dominic Kane, who were being tried in absentia.  I am particularly concerned by unacceptable procedural shortcomings during the trial process, including that key prosecution evidence was not made available to the defence team. Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of a stable and prosperous society.

“We have repeatedly raised this case and the restrictions on freedom of expression in Egypt with President Al Sisi, the Egyptian Foreign Minister and wider authorities in Egypt. British Ministers and diplomats will continue to urge the Egyptian Government to demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression by reviewing this case as a matter of urgency and I have instructed officials to summon the Egyptian Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today.”

This comes after 3 Al Jazeera journalists, who have been held in Egypt since December, have been sentenced to seven years in jail. .

The three defendants are Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed. They have been on trial along with 17 others on charges of “spreading false news,” falsely portraying Egypt as being in a state of “civil war,” as well as aiding or joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

In addition to his seven-year sentence, Baher Mohamed was handed an extra three-year term as well as an EGP 5,000 fine for possessing ammunition.