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Quotes on sentencing of Al-Jazeera journalists

Some of the world's top diplomats and several free-speech advocates have spoken out against a Cairo court's decision to sentence three Al-Jazeera journalists —Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — to seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges. Here are some of their comments:


"Canada is very disappointed with the verdict in the case of Mohamed Fahmy and is concerned that the judicial process that led to his verdict is inconsistent with Egypt's democratic aspirations. A fair and transparent legal system is a critical pillar of a future stable and democratic Egypt. Canada calls on the Egyptian government to protect the rights of all individuals, including journalists, in keeping with the spirit of Egypt’s new constitution and the desire of all Egyptians to build a fully democratic country." Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular)


"We call on the Egyptian government to pardon these individuals or commute their sentences so they can be released immediately, and grant clemency for all politically motivated sentences — starting with the other defendants in this trial." White House Press Secretary's Office


"I did make the point that as an Australian journalist, Peter Greste would not have been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, he would have simply been reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood. The point I made was that in the long run, a free and vigorous media are good for democracy, good for security, (and) good for stability. ...(Greste) certainly would have had no interest in promoting the Muslim Brotherhood." Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, before the verdict


"The Australian government is shocked at the verdict in the Peter Greste case. We are deeply dismayed by the fact that a sentence has been imposed and we are appalled by the severity of it. ... The Australian government simply cannot understand it based on the evidence that was presented in the case." Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.


"Prime Minister Harper must contact President al-Sissi directly to condemn the persecution and prosecution of journalists in Egypt, and call for the immediate release of Mr. Fahmy." NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar


"There's been world-wide condemnation of this verdict and the process that was used. In the short-term, we want to make sure that we have full access to Mr. Fahmy, we want to continue to make sure that his health and safety is being taken care of, we want to work closely with his family to make sure that they have the answers that they need, and we will continue to press the Egyptian government, the highest levels of the Canadian government and of the Egyptian government, to ensure that he is safe and that a better process is put in place." Conservative MP Paul Calandra, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's parliamentary secretary, speaking on CBC.


"This is a devastating verdict for the men and their families, and a dark day for media freedom in Egypt, when journalists are being locked up and branded criminals or ‘terrorists’ simply for doing their job. The only reason these three men are in jail is because the Egyptian authorities don’t like what they have to say. They are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released. In Egypt today anyone who dares to challenge the state’s narrative is considered a legitimate target." Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.


"I want Ottawa to contact President (Abdel-Fattah) el-Sissi and ask him for a pardon and also to publicly call for the release of Mohamed Fahmy. The only thing that I think is really going to make a difference in this case is to have foreign governments pressure el-Sissi to issue that pardon and to make it clear that that needs to happen or there will be consequences." Tom Henheffer, executive director of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

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