An Egyptian military court on Sunday handed a journalist a six-month suspended jail term for taking pictures of army checkpoints on the border with Gaza, military sources said.
Mohammed Sabry is the third Egyptian journalist to be sentenced by military tribunals since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.
Egyptian newspaper, Daily News Egypt, spoke to Sabry after the court’s decision.
“At the time of [my arrest] last January, I wasn’t ok if they sentenced me for anything. I’m not guilty,” said Sabry. “But after what’s happened in Egypt these past days and past months, I’m now ok with the verdict. A lot of journalists went to jail. A lot of journalists were killed in police stations, some killed doing their job. I feel ok compared to the general situation in Egypt.”
Doha Centre for Media Freedom has repeatedly denounced Egyptian authorities’ decision to allow the army to try civilians in a military court. “Journalists should be treated as civilians under all circumstances,” the centre said in a statement earlier.
Moreover, DCMF has worked with Sabry in the last few months to provide medical and legal assistance in order to proceed with his court case.
Security officials said armed forces had arrested Sabry as he took pictures in the town of Rafah on the border with the Palestinian enclave. It was unclear when he was actually arrested.
Sabry is a freelance journalist working for several Egyptian publications.
The Egyptian authorities say they are targeting “terrorists” in the lawless Sinai Peninsula which borders the Gaza Strip, run by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
The rulings against the journalists come as a panel tasked with amending the suspended constitution debates a clause allowing the military to try civilians. The army insists on retaining such powers.
The constitution, suspended when the army overthrew Morsi, allowed the military to try civilians accused of “harming” the armed forces.
Rights advocates say the speedy military tribunals violate defendants’ rights to impartial trials.
Source: Doha Centre for Media Freedom
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