Egyptian-based academic reacts to Australian journalist Peter Greste's sentencing in Egypt

24 June 2014

Statement by Amro Ali, Egypt and Middle East expert and a PhD scholar at the University of Sydney. He is currently in Egypt researching Egypt's democratic development.

The verdict has been handed and it's a tragedy. What this shows, as if more evidence was needed, is that the judiciary has become politicised, at the expense of the rule of law and human rights. There is hope through the appeals process, but with Ramadan coming up and the long judge's vacation in August, the process will be prolonged. There is still further hope that Sisi would pardon them in order to legitimise his regime on the international platform and showcase his progressive credentials. However, a presidential pardon could only happen after the appeals process has finished. Which will be slow.

This is catastrophic for press freedom in Egypt, especially when sentenced journalists have to now hope for presidential pardons for crimes they did not commit. The trial was not so much about the journalists as it was about putting the revolution, and its aspirations, on trial. Press freedom has taken a battering in Egypt, many journalists, following the verdict, are asking themselves this one salient point "That could be me."

Most Egyptians don't know about the ongoing trial, mainly because the media here has not covered it. Even if they did cover it, they would not be sympathetic to the defendants, which would be in tune with the hyper-nationalist climate.

This is not a good sign for the regime either. Straining relationships with the international community is not a matter that Egypt, whose economy depends heavily on tourism, trade and investment - can afford to do.

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