NUJ calls for verdicts on Al Jazeera journalists to be overturned
NUJ protest outside the Egyptian embassy - © Ken Colbourne
23 June 2014
Responding to the news that a Cairo court sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in jail and one to 10 years, Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"The NUJ condemns in the strongest terms these sentences meted on journalists who were merely doing their job. This is an outrageous decision and travesty of justice made by a kangaroo court. Al Jazeera has rejected the charges against its journalists and maintains their innocence. This is a brutal regime which is attacking and arresting many journalists to attempt to silence them and prevent them from reporting events.
"The British government must immediately signal its opposition to this verdict and do all it can to have the sentences overturned. The NUJ is calling on all media organisations to register their protest in support of colleagues at Al Jazeera and all the Egyptian journalists who have been attacked and arrested by their country's authorities. Governments must not be allowed to deny journalists, wherever they are, the right to be able to report independently and in safety. The freedom of journalists is an integral part of any democratic process."
Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in jail, while Baher Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for possession of ammunition. Mohamed was in posession of a spent bullet he found on the ground during a protest.
Other Al Jazeera journalists, Alaa Bayoumi, Anas Abdel-Wahab Khalawi Hasan, Khaleel Aly Khaleel Bahnasy, Mohamed Fawzi, Dominic Kane and Sue Turton were sentenced to 10 years in absentia.
The NUJ has campaigned since the arrests of the men and has led a number of protests outside the Egyptian embassy. Michelle Stanistreet and Jeremy Corbyn MP had a 40-minute meeting with Ashraf Elkholy, the Egyptian ambassador, and delivered a letter from the union expressing its concern about the "arrests and brutal attacks used to attempt to silence journalists and prevent them from doing their job". NUJ website report.