Three Al-Jazeera journalists arrested in December for allegedly aiding the Muslim Brotherhood—including two with foreign citizenship—have been sentenced to seven years each in a maximum-security prison in Egypt.
An Egyptian court convicted the three—Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian dual citizen Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed—on Monday.
Greste, Fahmy, and Mohamed have been detained for 177 days under dubious charges of fabricating footage and spreading false news in support of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to the Associated Press, the trial has a political element because of the friction between Qatar and Egypt's current government:
Qatar, which owns Al-Jazeera, was a top ally of [deposed president Mohamed] Morsi, and the military-backed government has since treated it as a bitter opponent. Amid the crackdown, Egyptian authorities accused Al-Jazeera of being a mouthpiece for the group, an accusation the station denies. During the trial, Fahmy shouted in court that their prosecution was an extension of the fight between Egypt's government and Qatar.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 211 journalists worldwide were jailed in 2013, while Reporters Without Borders counts 168 journalists imprisoned as of this year. It is relatively rare for even the most authoritarian countries to punish foreign reporters, though not unprecedented: Australian journalist Alan Morison was imprisoned in Thailand for defamation and computer crimes charges.
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