Three Al-Jazeera journalists were convicted in Egypt on Monday (June 23) of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, sparking outrage and a call for their freedom among fellow journalists and activists.
The Muslim Brotherhood, a religious and political group, is banned in Egypt and has been labeled a terrorist organization by the country.
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed had been in prison since December, when they were charged for conspiring with the Brotherhood and endangering national security. According to CNN, Greste and Fahmy were sentenced on Monday to seven years behind bars while Mohamed was sentenced to 10.
According to NPR, six more Al-Jazeera journalists were sentenced in absentia to 10-year terms.
The White House was quick to condemn the convictions, which were apparently delivered without any evidence that supported the allegations.
“Perhaps most disturbing is that this verdict comes as part of a succession of prosecutions and verdicts that are fundamentally incompatible with the basic precepts of human rights and democratic governance. These include the prosecution of peaceful protesters and critics of the government, and a series of summary death sentences in trials that fail to achieve even a semblance of due process,” press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement on Monday. “I don’t think it has anything to do with justice.”
According to Al Jazeera English Managing Director Al Anstey, there were “numerous irregularities” in the case and a “lack of evidence to stand up the ill-conceived allegations.”
“There is only one sensible outcome now,” Anstey said in a statement on Monday. “For the verdict to be overturned, and justice to be recognized by Egypt. We must keep our voice loud to call for an end to their detention.”
According to CNN, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi “specifically” about the detained journalists, calling the convictions a “deeply disturbing setback to Egypt’s transition.”
The convictions not only garnered responses from worldwide leaders, but citizens across the globe, with the hashtag #journalismisnotacrime trending by the afternoon.
— Jeremy Young (@YoungRJeremy) June 23, 2014
— Joanna Berendt (@JoannaBerendt) June 23, 2014
— Hugh Southey (@HughSoutheyQC) June 23, 2014