As we all know expecting justice in a kangaroo court is simply stupid. Under General Sisi, the neo-Pharaoh of Egypt, the country's courts have become kangaroo courts. So, we are not surprised with the latest court verdict with respect to Al Jazeera journalists.
The court sentenced the Canadian Mohammed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohammed on Saturday, reigniting international criticism over the long-running case and highlighting authorities' crackdown on journalists.
I criticize strongly the court decision and demand that Sisi release them immediately.
As noted by the Associated Press, evidence presented at the trial ventured into the absurd, including music videos and footage of animals, which defense lawyers and even the judge dismissed as irrelevant. Third party observers say no evidence proved the charges, and critics described the case as politically motivated.
Besides the "false news" charge, Judge Hassan Farid said in his ruling that he sentenced the men because they had not registered with the country's journalist syndicate, brought in equipment without security officials' approval and used central Cairo's Marriott hotel as a broadcasting point without permission.
Greste was deported to Australia in February and sentenced Saturday in absentia.
The three are now seeking a pardon from President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who has personally expressed regret over the long-running trial and the damage it has done to Egypt's international reputation. If a pardon is not granted, they will appeal once the full verdict is released in the next 30 days.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who represented Fahmy on Saturday, said she and Canadian Ambassador Troy Lulashnyk would be meeting with Egyptian officials to press for a presidential pardon.
In an interview Sunday with the BBC, Clooney urged President Sissi to issue a pardon "that would apply to all journalists, not just those who are foreign."
She said it was ironic that "the conviction was for tarnishing Egypt's reputation when the thing that the international community condemns Egypt for is this case and similar cases. This is what's tarnishing Egypt's image. I do think that he (Sissi) is aware of that and he has a way to fix it."
"I think we all know what's at stake," she added. "It's media freedom in Egypt and in the region. This is a case that's going to set a precedent one way or another. And it's also about the integrity of the judicial process."
The case began in December 2013, when Egyptian security forces raided the hotel suite used by Al-Jazeera at the time to report from Egypt. Authorities arrested Fahmy, Greste and Mohammed, later charging them with allegedly being part of the Muslim Brotherhood, which authorities have declared a terrorist organization, and airing falsified footage intended to damage national security.
The three were convicted on June 23, 2014, with Greste and Fahmy sentenced to seven years in prison and Mohammed to 10 years for being found with a spent bullet casing. That ruling was later overturned on appeal by Egypt's Court of Cassation, which said the initial proceedings were marred by violations of the defendants' rights, but a retrial was ordered.
Two other British journalists for Al-Jazeera were also sentenced to 10 years in that original trial but managed to leave the country beforehand and could not file an appeal.
The arrests came in the wake of the military's ouster that summer of the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, after mass protests against his rule. Since then, Egypt has cracked down on his supporters, and accused the three journalists of being Brotherhood mouthpieces. Al-Jazeera and the journalists have denied the allegations.
At the time of the arrests, Qatar and Egypt were at odds over Doha's support of Islamist groups and the Brotherhood. In the time since, Qatar, which funds Al-Jazeera, has expelled some Brotherhood members and made overtures toward easing tensions with Egypt, though the Qatari government continues to support some Islamists in the region.