Amal Clooney warned of the “dangerous” implications of Saturday’s Egyptian Al-Jazeera trial verdict in an interview after the sentencing, urging the Middle Eastern country’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to overturn the Cairo convictions.
The human rights lawyer (and wife of George Clooney) represented Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, one of three Al-Jazeera reporters who were first charged in 2013 for allegedly being a part of the Muslim Brotherhood and airing falsified footage intended to damage national security. On Saturday, all three men were sentenced to three years in prison, according to the Associated Press.
The Egyptian judge Hassan Farid said he sentenced the men to prison because they were not registered with the country’s journalist syndicate while covering the 2013 military ousting of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, reported the AP. Farid also said the reporters brought in equipment without security officials’ approval, according to the AP.
“The verdict today sends a very dangerous message in Egypt,” said Clooney after the ruling. “It sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news.”
The 37-year-old said that every third party who had weighed in on the lengthy case said “there is no evidence to sustain any of the charges.”
“And it sends a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political repression and propaganda,” the British lawyer added.
Clooney said that “there is a solution” and challenged President al-Sisi to take action and overturn the court’s decision.
Fahmy, Clooney’s client, was Al-Jazeera’s acting Cairo bureau chief at the time of his arrest, according to the AP. The other men sentenced were Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed, according to the AP.
Fahmy and Mohammed were present for Saturday’s ruling, while Greste was sentenced in absentia, as he was deported from the country back in February, reported the AP.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the group the men were allegedly assisting, was outlawed in Egypt after President Morsi was overthrown amid mass protests against his rule two years ago.