The International Press Institute (IPI) has written to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi expressing concern over the conviction and sentencing of three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt, as well as six other sentences pronounced against journalists in absentia.
In an open letter, the contents of which were released to the media, the Executive Board of the IPI, a global network of publishers, editors and journalists, reminded him that Egypt had signed and ratified international human rights treaties — including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — that include clear provisions requiring states to ensure respect of the right to freedom of expression. The imprisonment and lengthy sentence of the Al Jazeera journalists — and any other journalist jailed in Egypt for their work — is a violation of international commitments.
The three journalists — Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed — have been in Egyptian custody for the past nine months. On Monday, Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to prison terms of seven years and Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years. They were charged with broadcasting fabricated news reports and assisting the Muslim Brotherhood in spreading propaganda critical of the Egyptian state. Egypt declared the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation only days before their arrest.
“These sentences are unjustifiable, with no real evidence having been presented in court proceedings,” the IPI said.
The IPI reminded the President that in January, Egyptian voters had approved an amended Constitution that includes guarantees for freedom of expression and bans government interference with the media.