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Egypt court sentences Al Jazeera journalists to prison

[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison and a third to a 10-year term. Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy were found guilty of reporting false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood [party website; JURIST news archive] and sentenced to seven years [Al Jazeera report] while Baher Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years on additional charges of possession of ammunition. Three other journalists were sentenced in absentia to 10 years. Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed were detained in December, months after Al Jazeera took legal action [JURIST reports] against the government for its alleged wrongful detainment of journalists for political reasons. The journalists had pleaded not guilty in February, and a judge had ordered their continued detention [JURIST reports] last month.

Political conflict in Egypt has been ongoing since the 2011 revolution [JURIST backgrounder], most recently between supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi [JURIST news archive] and supporters of the new government in place since Morsi's ouster [JURIST report] last July. In April Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Egypt [JURIST report] to release the Al Jazeera journalists, calling the continued detention "vindictive." In February an Egyptian court acquitted [JURIST report] an Al Jazeera television cameraman and 61 others accused of participating in demonstrations in Cairo last July. In January Egyptian prosecutors charged [JURIST report] 20 Al Jazeera journalists, including Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed, with joining or conspiring with a terrorist group and broadcasting false images.

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