The sentencing of three Al-Jazeera journalists to prison has shocked the international community. Egyptian Baher Mohamed, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste were all found guilty of "spreading false news" and of aiding a "terrorist group" after a retrial and sentenced to three years in prison.
The three journalists were accused of producing reports for Al-Jazeera which were promoting the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was outlawed in Egypt after the army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the organisation, in 2013.
Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste sent out final tweets after sentencing. Mohamed asked his colleagues to "Keep shouting for us" and that he "will not be able to keep in touch with you" from now on:
Keep shouting for us my colleagues I'm sorry. from now on will not be able to keep in touch with you #FreeAJStaff
— Baher Mohamed (@Bahrooz) August 29, 2015
Greste, who had been sentenced in absentia after being deported to Cyprus at the end of the first trial, said that "Shocked. Outraged. Angry. Upset. None of them convey how I feel right now."
— Peter Greste (@PeterGreste) August 29, 2015
The verdict has been condemned by Al-Jazeera's senior management. During a press conference Giles Trendle, the managing director of Al-Jazeera's English service, said that he was "shocked, sickened and appalled" by the verdict. The broadcaster's acting director general Dr Mostefa Souag said that, "Today's verdict defies logic and common sense."
Prince Zeid bin Raad, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the UN was "very disturbed by these three sentences". He also warned of the "extra pressure it creates on journalists in Egypt who are just trying to do their jobs".
The EU's diplomatic arm, the European External Action Service, released a short statement saying that the verdict represented "a setback for freedom of expression in Egypt". It went on to say that sentencing Grech, and Australian, in absentia was a "breach of Egypt's obligations under international law".
Australia's Foreign Minister Julia Bishop said she was "dismayed by the decision". She added that she "will continue to pursue all diplomatic avenues" to clear Greste's name.
Canada's foreign ministry called for the immediate release of Fahmy, while Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, condemned the "farcical verdict which strikes at the heart of freedom of expression in Egypt".
Journalists around the world, who have been vocal about case, took to Twitter using the #FreeAJStaff hashtag to decry the verdict. Christopher Miller, senior world correspondent for the technology news website Mashable, said:
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) August 29, 2015
Brett Mason, from the Australian SBS news channel, asked people to "Keep shouting #FreeAJStaff":
— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) August 29, 2015
Meanwhile, the Qatar-based cartoonist Khalid Albaih used a cartoon to express his views:
— ALBAIH (@khalidalbaih) August 29, 2015
Ordinary members of the online community around the world also criticised the verdict.
— Chinemore Elias (@EliasChinemore) August 29, 2015
— Matt Macklin (@Matt_Macklin7) August 29, 2015
A spokeswoman for Al-Jazeera said that they would wait for the reasoned decision from the court and then they would appeal the decision to the Court of Cassation. It could take up to 30 days for the decision to be released.