Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the convictions of three journalists in Egypt, emphasizing that the ruling contradicts statements made to him by the nation’s president and foreign minister Sunday.
“Injustices like these simply cannot stand if Egypt is to move forward in the way that President al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukry told me just yesterday that they aspire to see their country advance,” Kerry, who visited Egypt Sunday, said in a Monday statement.
“Yesterday, President al-Sisi and I frankly discussed these issues and his objectives at the start of his term as president,” Kerry added. ”I call on him to make clear, publicly, his government’s intention to observe Egypt’s commitment to the essential role of civil society, a free press, and the rule of law. The Egyptian government should review all of the political sentences and verdicts pronounced during the last few years and consider all available remedies, including pardons.”
The statement came in response to news that “an Egyptian court Monday sentenced three journalists from the Qatar-based Al Jazeera English news network to between seven and 10 years in prison, on charges that they manipulated footage to tarnish Egypt’s image,” per the Wall Street Journal.
Kerry praised President al-Sisi Sunday for making a commitment to human rights, including press freedom. “I emphasized also our strong support for upholding the universal rights and freedoms of all Egyptians, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” he said after their meeting. ”We also discussed the essential role of a vibrant civil society, a free press, and rule of law, and due process in a democracy. There is no question that Egyptian society is stronger when all of its citizens have a say and a stake in its success. And I welcome the recent statements from President al-Sisi and his call for review of human rights legislation.”
“I spoke with Foreign Minister Shoukry again today to make very clear our deep concerns about these convictions and sentences,” Kerry said Monday.