US decries al Jazeera jail sentences

Mohamed Fahmy (left), Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were freed before their retrial

Mohamed Fahmy (left), Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were freed before their retrial

The US has said it is “deeply disappointed and concerned” at the three-year jail sentences passed in Egypt on three al-Jazeera journalists.

Echoing criticism from the UK, Canada and Australia, the US state department urged Egypt to “redress the verdict”.

The reporters, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste, were convicted of “spreading false news”.

Mr Greste was deported to Australia this year and was tried in absentia.

State department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement: “We urge the government of Egypt to take all available measures to redress this verdict, which undermines the very freedom of expression necessary for stability and development.

“The freedom of the press to investigate, report, and comment – even when its perspective is unpopular or disputed – is fundamental to any free society and essential to democratic development.” Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said she was “dismayed” by the sentences.

Bishop said she had spoken with Mr Greste and would “continue to pursue all diplomatic avenue with my Egyptian counterpart” to clear Mr Greste’s name.

On Sunday, Mr Greste said again that he was innocent.

“There was never any evidence to confirm any of the allegations against us,” he said.”

–BBC

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