An Egyptian court Sunday released its verdict justifying the imprisonment of several Al Jazeera journalists, a move that has been widely condemned by journalists and free-speech groups across the world, the Associated Press reported. The court accused the newsmen of being in the service of the Muslim Brotherhood, a political party that was designated an illegal terrorist organization after Egypt's current regime came to power in July 2013.
"It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Al Jazeera media channel has dedicated its broadcasting to the service and support of the Muslim Brotherhood faction and that they have permanently sided with them at the expense of their media ethics," the ruling said, according to the AP. "This provides enough ground for a conviction of belonging to a group based on violations of the law."
Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were sentenced to three years for associating with the Brotherhood and spreading "false news," AP reported. Fahmy is a Canadian citizen and Mohamed is Egyptian. Greste was deported home to Australia in February.
It was the second ruling against the journalists after the original was overturned last year out of apparent concern for the defendants' rights. AP reported Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, will appeal. The defendants deny all charges.
The two remaining journalists have been stuck in the country since December 2013, a few months after the military takeover. After security forces raided their original offices around Tahrir Square, the trio moved their HQ to the Marriott. That's where police arrested them, accusing them of being Brotherhood agents and broadcasting falsehoods designed to harm Egypt's national security.
A conviction followed in June 23, 2014, and Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison while Mohamed was sentenced to 10, the AP reported. That was overturned, replaced with the shorter sentences.
The United States, the United Nations and the European Union have all called for their release. The campaign #FreeAJStaff has advocated for the trio since 2014.