New Delhi: The International Press Institute has expressed concern over the conviction and sentencing of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt and urged the country’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to immediately grant a full presidential pardon to them.
IPI, an organisation of leading publishers, editors and journalists, reminded Sisi that the imprisonment and lengthy sentence of Al Jazeera staffers is a clear violation of international commitments Egypt has made by signing and ratifying international human rights treaties.
In a letter to Sisi, it has argued that the prosecution did not present anything “relevant” in court and instead submitted “unrelated evidence” including personal photos from family vacation and previous news reports filmed in other countries.
“These sentences are unjustifiable, with no real evidence having been presented in court proceedings,” IPI said.
Observing that the verdict was aimed at silencing critical media, it said the “egregious” sentences handed down on June 23 undercut assertions that Egypt has embraced democracy and they constitute a serious blemish on the country’s record.
Egyptian voters approved an amended constitution which includes strong guarantees for freedom of expression and bans foreign interference in the news media, it said.
“Accordingly, we urge you and all authorities in Egypt to abide by the new constitutional protections regarding press freedom and freedom of expression.
“With this letter, we join a multitude of voices… in urging Your Excellency to immediately grant a full presidential pardon to all journalists sentenced in Egypt in connection with their work,” IPI said.
Two journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste were sentenced to seven years in jail while Baher Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years.