Monday, June 23, 2014

ATTACK ON JOURNALISM IN AFRICA: Three Al Jazeera staff convicted in Egypt in politically motivated court case.

From Africa's southern most tip, South Africa, to the edge of its northernmost end, Egypt, press freedom and freedom of speech are under attack and continue to be threatened as three Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 401) were convicted and condemned and given prison sentences today.

Mohammed Fahmy, Baher Mohammed and Peter Greste - kept in cages all during their court trial like animals - were sentenced today to between 7 and 10 years in prison.

This travesty was the "conclusion" of a shambolic and surreal court case filled with bogus claims and fake evidence regarding alleged terrorism charges, and which was eye-poppingly jarring for its farcical court procedures.

The conviction news sent shockwaves through Africa's journalism community as well as the global journalism community, with several international broadcasters, TV news channels and publications devoting attention, time and coverage to the outrageous act.

The three have been detained since December - 177 days. The shambolic trial took five months.

"Today three colleagues and friends were sentenced, and will continue behind bars for doing a brilliant job of being great journalists, 'guilty' of covering stories with great skill and integrity," says Al Anstey, Al Jazeera English's managing director in a statement.

"At no point during the long, dwarn-out 'trial' did the absurd allegations stand up to scrutiny".

"The support shown for Mohamed, Peter and Baher has been loud, unified, and determined, and has come from every corner of the world".

"The call for their freedom has come from journalists, people right around the globe, as well as leaders worldwide. This great solidarity is a stand for basic freedoms - the freedom of speech, for the right for people to be informed, and for the right for journalists around the world to be able to do their job".

"There is only one sensible outcome now. For the verdict to be overtuned, and justice to be recognised by Egypt," says Al Anstey.