Egypt – (warsoor) – An Egyptian court on Saturday recommended the death penalty for three journalists and three others charged with endangering national security by leaking state secrets to Qatar, in a ruling condemned by the Doha-based Al Jazeera channel as shocking.
Jordanian national Alaa Omar Sablan and Ibrahim Mohammed Helal, who both work for Al Jazeera, and Asmaa Al Khateeb, a reporter for Rassd, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood news network, were sentenced in absentia. They can appeal.
The sentence is the latest since a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood after an army takeover stripped former president Mohammed Mursi of power in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.
Al Jazeera said the ruling provoked “shock and anger” and called for international action to safeguard journalists’ rights to report news freely.
“The death sentence against journalists is unprecedented in the history of world media and amounts to a real stab against freedom of expression around the world,” the satellite channel said in a statement posted on its website.
Mursi and other Brotherhood leaders, as well as leading figures from the 2011 popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, many of them secular activists and journalists, are now in jail.
Following Saturday’s ruling, a final decision is expected on June 18, after the sentence has been referred to the top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion.
Judge Mohammed Shireen Fahmy, who announced the verdict, also said that a ruling against Mursi and several others charged in the same case, would be postponed to the same date.
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