Step backwards for freedom of expression in Egypt

'Yesterday's conviction of three Al Jazeera journalists is a step backwards for freedom of expression in Egypt,' said State Secretary Bård Glad Pedersen.

On Saturday 29 August, an Egyptian court sentenced Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste to three years in prison. Peter Greste, an Australian citizen, was convicted in absentia, while Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were returned to prison in Cairo following the verdict.

'We have raised the cases of the Al Jazeera journalists and restrictions on freedom of expression with the Egyptian authorities on several occasions, and I am deeply disappointed by yesterday's court decision,' Mr Pedersen said.

'A free and independent press is a cornerstone of any democratic society. Journalists must be able to work under safe conditions, and the Egyptian authorities have an obligation to protect freedom of expression. We will follow further legal processes closely, and call for the release of the journalists and for all charges against them to be dropped,' Mr Pedersen said.