Unjust sentences hanging over heads of all journalists in Egypt
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.