The IPI global network of journalists, editors, and publishers strongly condemns the sentencing in absentia of Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Taha to 15 years in prison in Egypt on charges of “spreading false news”. This judgment should be immediately reversed.  We also call on the Egyptian government to release all journalists currently being imprisoned in the country.

Taha was charged with others who were being tried for spreading false news, including former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fetouh, head of the Strong Egypt party and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to reports, the charges related to an interview that Taha conducted with Fetouh on Al Jazeera in February 2018. 

Al Jazeera condemned the ruling as “irrational” and “part of an ongoing campaign launched by the Egyptian authorities against Al Jazeera and its journalists”.

“The judgment against Ahmed Tata is outrageous and should be reversed”, IPI Head of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “The sentencing of Taha and the detention of other journalists and human rights activists in Egypt reflects the regime’s growing intolerance of any criticism of its policies. Journalists must be able to work freely without fear of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.”

Egypt is considered one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, with at least 70 other journalists behind bars, according to the Arab Observatory for Media Freedom. At least four other Al Jazeera journalists are also currently detained in Egypt.