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Britain summons Egyptian ambassador over 'appalling' sentencing of Al Jazeera journalists

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera urged Egypt to overturn the court ruling, condemning the seven-year prison sentences as unjustified and defying logic.

Al jazeera journalist verdict june 23 2014Enlarge
Al Jazeera news channel's Australian journalist Peter Greste (L) and his colleagues, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy (R) and Egyptian Baher Mohamed (C), listen to the verdict inside the defendants' cage at the police institute near Cairo's Tora prison. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Britain said on Monday it was summoning the Egyptian ambassador to protest over what it said was the "appalling" sentencing of three Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in jail.

A court in Cairo on Monday found the trio guilty of charges which included helping a "terrorist organization" by spreading lies in a case that has raised questions about Egypt's respect for media freedoms. Two British journalists were among 11 others sentenced in absentia to 10 years.

"I am appalled by the guilty verdicts handed down today against Egyptian and international journalists in Egypt," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.

"I am particularly concerned by unacceptable procedural shortcomings during the trial process, including that key prosecution evidence was not made available to the defense team. Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of a stable and prosperous society."

Hague said that British ministers and diplomats would urge the Egyptian Government to review the case "as a matter of urgency" and that Britain's views would be made known to the Egyptian ambassador in a meeting on Monday.

Qatari news network Al Jazeera urged Egypt on Monday to overturn the court ruling, condemning the seven-year prison sentences as unjustified and defying logic.

"There is no justification whatsoever in the detention of our three colleagues for even one minute ... to have sentenced them defies logic, sense, and any semblance of justice," Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said in a statement.

"There is only one sensible outcome now. For the verdict to be overturned, and justice to be recognized by Egypt. We must keep our voice loud to call for an end to their detention."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/140623/britain-summons-egyptian-ambassador-over-sentencing-a