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June 28, 2017

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Int'l outrage as Egyptian court sentences Al-Jazeera journalists

CAIRO--An Egyptian court sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists including Australia's Peter Greste to jail terms from seven to 10 years Monday in a verdict denounced internationally as "appalling" and "unjust."

Greste and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy each got seven years, while producer Baher Mohamed received two sentences — one for seven years and another for three.

Eleven defendants tried in absentia, including one Dutch journalist and two British journalists, were given 10-year sentences.

The trial had provoked an international outcry and raised fears of growing media restrictions in Egypt.

"The Australian government is shocked at the verdict," Canberra's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

"We are deeply dismayed that a sentence has been imposed and appalled at the severity of it.

"It is hard to credit that the court in this case could have reached this conclusion," she added.

"The Australian government simply cannot understand it based on the evidence that was presented in the case."

Al-Jazeera chief Mustafa Sawaq said in Doha: "We condemn ... this kind of unjust verdict ... We are shocked."

"To have sentenced them defies logic, sense, and any semblance of justice," added Al-Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey.

Greste's brother Andrew said he was devastated.

"It is definitely not what we were expecting. I was hoping for acquittal ... we will continue to fight for his freedom," he said.

Egyptian Ambassadors Summoned

In The Hague, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said he had summoned the Egyptian ambassador and would raise this matter with his EU colleagues after Dutch journalist Rena Netjes, tried in absentia, "did not get a fair trial."

London also said it was summoning Cairo's envoy, and David Cameron's spokesman said the premier was "completely appalled" by the verdicts issued in absentia against two British journalists working for Al-Jazeera.

Amnesty International's Philip Luther said: "This is a devastating verdict for the men and their families, and a dark day for media freedom in Egypt."

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