UN regrets sentencing of Al-Jazeera journalists

United Nations, Aug 30 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has regretted the sentencing of three Al-Jazeera journalists by an Egyptian court, the organisation said in a statement on Sunday.

Egypt’s top appealing court sentenced Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed to three years in prison, Xinhua news agency reported.

Three other Egyptian defendants also received a similar sentence for helping the Al-Jazeera journalists. Two other defendants were acquitted.

According to the United Nations’ statement, Ban recalled his earlier appeals for the case to be resolved expeditiously and in accordance with Egypt’s international obligations to protect freedom of expression and association and in full observance of due process guarantees.

Ban underscored the importance of pluralism and respect for fundamental freedoms for the long-term prosperity and stability of Egypt, it said.

The journalists were arrested in a security raid in December 2013 from a Cairo hotel where they were operating. They were then accused of spreading false news and lies that harmed national interests.

Last year, Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Baher Mohamed received a ten-year imprisonment term over charges of aiding the currently blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

The court accepted an appeal against the sentence on January 1, saying the initial trial failed to prove their links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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