U.S. Secretary John Kerry on Monday slammed the Egyptian government for its “draconian” and “disturbing” prison sentences against three Al Jazeera journalists.
“Today’s conviction and chilling, draconian sentences by the Cairo Criminal Court of three Al Jazeera journalists and fifteen others in a trial that lacked many fundamental norms of due process, is a deeply disturbing set-back to Egypt’s transition,” Kerry said in a statement.
The Al Jazeera English journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed, were each sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison for allegedly spreading false news and endangering national security, according to CNN. The sentencing drew widespread outrage.
Kerry said he expressed his “very deep concerns” when speaking directly with the Egyptian government Monday.
“As I shared with President al-Sisi during my visit to Cairo, the long term success of Egypt and its people depends on the protection of universal human rights, and a real commitment to embracing the aspirations of the Egyptians for a responsive government. Egyptian society is stronger and sustainable when all of its citizens have a say and a stake in its success. Today’s verdicts fly in the face of the essential role of civil society, a free press, and the real rule of law. I spoke with Foreign Minister Shoukry again today to make very clear our deep concerns about these convictions,” he continued.
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