Christoph Strässer, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (23 June) on the sentencing of several Al Jazeera correspondents to lengthy prison terms by a Cairo tribunal:
I am appalled that nine foreign and Egyptian Al Jazeera journalists have been handed lengthy prison sentences today. The proceedings, which have been ongoing for several months, fall far short of fulfilling minimum legal requirements.
Since the new Egyptian Government took office, we have noted with concern continuing acts of repression against the media, civil society, the political opposition and human rights activists. This policy cannot and will not stabilise Egypt in the long term.
That is why I call on the Egyptian Government to respect human rights such as the right to freedom of expression. Allowing the media to report freely is an essential element of any democracy. The Egyptian authorities must ensure that trial procedures adhere to the human rights standards which Egypt has pledged to uphold and implement.
On 23 June 2014, an Egyptian tribunal sentenced Al Jazeera correspondents Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy to seven years in prison and Baher Mohamed to ten. They were accused of spreading false news and supporting an illegal organisation. Another six Al Jazeera journalists were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment in absentia.