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Obama calls for release of Al Jazeera journalists

US President says Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed “should be released”

US President Barack Obama speaks at the South Lawn of the White House on March 20, 2014  (AFP/File, Mandel Ngan)
US President Barack Obama speaks at the South Lawn of the White House on March 20, 2014
(AFP/File, Mandel Ngan)

United States President Barack Obama has called for the release of three journalists convicted of terrorism related charges in Egypt.

“The specific issue of the Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, we’ve been clear both publicly and privately that they should be released”, said Obama in a press conference following the US-Africa Leaders Summit.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb represented Egypt at the summit and met with Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Washington.

Al Jazeera English journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were each sentenced to seven years in prison on 23 June on charges of spreading false news and joining and aiding an illegal organisation, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation Egypt has listed as a terrorist group. Mohamed received an extra three years for being in possession of an empty bullet casing.

In July Egypt’s judiciary issued a response to international criticism of the verdict, stressing the trio were afforded the right to a free trial and their “rights and freedoms were never violated or infringed upon at any time”.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said that he would “not interfere in judicial affairs” adding: “We must respect judicial rulings and refrain from commenting on them”.

The convicted journalists have insisted on their innocence throughout the trial and have criticised the verdict due to the lack of evidence against them. The prosecution presented footage of Sky News Arabia tourism reports, a popular song from the artist Gotye, images of Greste’s parents on holiday and reports by Greste for Al Jazeera from his time working in East Africa.

Kerry raised the issue of the Al Jazeera journalists with Al-Sisi when they met in June the day before the handing down of the guilty verdict. Kerry told reporters that Al-Sisi gave him a “strong sense of his commitment” to review human rights legislation and look at Egypt’s judicial procedures.

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  • Minymina

    F**k Kerry and Obama.

  • Hate MB

    Shut up Obama!!!

  • Reda Sobky

    Dear President Sisi, For the good of egypt please let those people go by pardoning or commuting their sentence to time served. It is alway a source of distraction and the enemies of Egypt bleed it every day in the media. I am sure these people got the point and others so the legal deterrence against such behavior so the purpose is served. A new day is dawning and it is good not have the dogs barking all day, throw them a piece of meat maybe it they will bark a bit less or have less to bark about.

    • rado

      He is dictator, not president. He is terrorist

  • rado
    • Reda Sobky

      I don’t disagree that due process must attend all arrests and legal proceedings need to be fair and reasonable. He has been President for a very short while and yes, the situation needs to be normalized but at the same time the deposed are fundamentally religious gangsters who wish to destroy the social and political structure in Egypt and turn it into a province in a megalomaniacal caliphate state and they do not play by the rules. How is one going to have a government employee withstand these attacks unless they are supported and that can lead to excesses which need to be pulled back by the leadership, I guess it is one of the functions of leadership.

      • rado

        If people of Egypt want Shariah law, nobody should be above the people will. if people of Egypt chose a president again nobody should be above people will. Only one person was (is) above people will, and that is the dictator Sisi. He killed his opponents, he imprisoned and imprisoning his opponents. This is called dictatorship. That is why we should be united against this (old Mubarak regime member) dictator.

        • Reda Sobky

          Your are now sounding like a kook, good luck.

        • Hate MB

          You do not have any idea or intelligence. Obviously you are not Egyptian, Radomir! you should probably stick to something other than Egypt’s politics. One more thing, Sisi is a hero !!!

  • Al Masry

    Heck NO. US President’s request proves they are SPIES embedded to harm Egypt security. LOL. SUCK IT IN.

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