The Courier-Mail

Un­just sen­tences hang­ing over heads of all jour­nal­ists in Egypt

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AN Egyp­tian court at the week­end again sen­tenced three jour­nal­ists – Peter Greste, Mo­hamed Fahmy and Ba­her Mo­hamed – to three years’ jail for do­ing their job. The de­ci­sion demon­strated con­tempt for free­dom of the press, and trash­ing the rule of law.

Greste, through per­sis­tent pres­sure from the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment with a par­tic­u­lar ef­fort from For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop, has been de­ported back to Aus­tralia but his two Al Jazeera col­leagues face grim im­pris­on­ment in a Cairo prison.

Their “crime” is a joke. There was never any ev­i­dence to back the charges.

There are far greater re­gional po­lit­i­cal threads wo­ven through this un­just saga that will sadly now re­strict oth­ers try­ing to re­port on mil­i­tary-led na­tions like Egypt or other ba­si­cally law­less coun­tries, like Libya or Syria.

Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah el-Sisi should par­don these three news­men – free­ing Fahmy and Mo­hamed and help­ing to re­build the rep­u­ta­tion of his coun­try which is al­ready suf­fer­ing eco­nom­i­cally be­cause of re­cent po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary tur­moil.

The sad foot­note is that all jour­nal­ists work­ing in Egypt now also have these sen­tences loom­ing over their day jobs.

The Gov­ern­ment there re­cently passed a law mak­ing it a crim­i­nal of­fence to pub­lish any ver­sion of any events which de­vi­ates from the of­fi­cial story. This is a coun­try which has se­ri­ous trou­ble with the rule of law, free­dom of speech and re­spect for any le­git­i­mate scru­tiny.

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