Al Jazeera, BBC Hold Silent Vigil for Journalists Jailed in Egypt (Video)
Journalists from the BBC and Al Jazeera held a minute of silence on Tuesday to protest the conviction of three of their colleagues in Egypt.
Egypt's military regime convicted Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, all journalists with Al Jazeera's English-language service, of spreading false news, conspiring with the banned Muslim Brotherhood and endangering national security. A judge sentenced Greste, a native of Australia and a former BBC correspondent, and Fahmy, formerly with CNN, to seven years each behind bars. Mohamed received a 10-year sentence.
In protest, BBC staff gathered outside the broadcaster's headquarters in London on Tuesday and stood in a silent vigil, wearing black tape across their mouths. Simultaneously, the staff at Al Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar gathered together in silent protest, holding up signs reading “journalism is not a crime” and #FreeAJStaff—the Twitter handle being used to protest the convictions.
Watch a video of the event below.
All three journalists have denied the charges against them. Their trial has been widely condemned outside Egypt as the prosecution provided no evidence to support its allegations. Three other international journalists—Al Jazeera's Sue Turton and Dominic Kane and Dutch newspaper reporter Rena Netjes—were sentenced in absentia to 10 years apiece in the same trial. All six of the journalists are expected to appeal their sentences.
Many prominent journalists, including CNN's Christiane Amanpour, have called on Egypt to release the Al Jazeera reporters.
The arrests and convictions have been condemned by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who, in a statement, termed them "chilling, Draconian sentences" and "a deeply disturbing setback to Egypt's transition” to democracy. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Obama administration "strongly condemns" the journalists' sentencing and that the White House has called on the Egyptian government to pardon the journalists.
But the Egyptian foreign ministry has dismissed all international criticism, saying it "strongly rejects any comment from a foreign party that casts doubt on the independence of the Egyptian judiciary and the justice of its verdicts."