Heba Elkholy / AP

From left, Australian correspondent Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera Mohamed Fahmy, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed, appear in a defendant's cage in a courtroom in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, June 23, 2014.

White House condemns Egypt’s sentencing of journalists

Published: Monday, Jun. 23, 2014 - 12:53 pm

The White House on Monday condemned Egypt’s sentencing of three Al Jazeera journalists to prison on terrorism-related charges.

“The prosecution of journalists for reporting information that does not coincide with the government of Egypt's narrative flouts the most basic standards of media freedom and represents a blow to democratic progress in Egypt,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “As we've said many times before, democracy is about more than elections. True democracy requires thriving democratic institutions, including a vibrant free press that is empowered to hold the government accountable to the people.”

Baher Mohammed, Mohammed Fahmy and Peter Greste were sentenced to between seven and ten years in prison.

“Perhaps most disturbing in this verdict comes as part of the succession of prosecutions and verdicts that are fundamentally incompatible with the basic precepts of human rights and democratic governance,” Earnest said. “These include the prosecution of peaceful protesters and critics of the government and a series of summary death sentences and trials that fail to achieve even a semblance of due process.”

Earnest said the United States urges the Egyptian president to pardon the journalists or commute their sentences so and grant clemency for all politically motivated sentences.

“We strongly urge President al-Sisi, in the spirit of his pledge to review all human rights legislation, to provide the protections for free expression and assembly as well as the fair trial safeguards that are required by Egypt’s international obligations,” he said.

Read more articles by Anita Kumar

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