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World / Middle East

UN chief regrets sentencing of journalists in Egypt

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-08-30 14:36

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday that he deeply regretted the sentencing of Al-Jazeera journalists by an Egyptian court.

In the final verdict, the Court of Cassation, Egypt's top appealing court, sentenced Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed to three years in prison.

Three other Egyptian defendants also received a similar sentence for helping the Al-Jazeera journalists. Two other defendants were acquitted.

In a statement, the UN secretary-general recalled his earlier appeals for the case to be resolved expeditiously and in accordance with Egypt's international obligations to protect freedom of expression and association and in full observance of due process guarantees.

Ban also underscored once again the importance of pluralism and respect for fundamental freedoms for the long-term prosperity and stability of Egypt, according to the statement.

The journalists were arrested in a security raid in December 2013 from a Cairo hotel room where they were operating. They were then accused of spreading false news and lies that harmed national interests.

Last year, Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Baher Mohamed received a ten-year imprisonment term over charges of aiding the currently blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

The Court of Cassation accepted an appeal against the sentence on Jan. 1, saying the initial trial failed to prove their links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Greste was tried and sentenced in absentia as he was deported to Australia earlier this year.

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