Journalists gather outside the Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo ahead of an emergency general assembly meeting on May 4, 2016, in protest to a police raid on the syndicate and the arrest of two journalists. ASWAT MASRIYA
CAIRO, May 12 (Aswat Masriya) - The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned on Wednesday an Egyptian court's recommendations to hand death sentences to three journalists who are convicted in the "Qatar espionage" case along with ousted president Mohamed Mursi.
The journalists, Ibrahim Helal and Alaa Omar who worked for the Qatar-based news outlet al-Jazeera and Asmaa al-Khatib who worked with the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Rassd, are accused of smuggling Egyptian secret documents to Qatari intelligence.
A Cairo criminal court referred the papers of a total of six defendants in the case to Egypt's Grand Mufti give his religious opinion after the court handed them death sentences on Saturday. The ruling for the rest of the 11 defendants in the case, including Mursi, has been postponed to June 18.
The six defendants who received death sentences also included a documentary filmmaker Ahmed Afifi, a flight attendant Mohamed Kilany and a teaching assistant in the Misr University for Sciences and Technology Ahmed Ismail
"Egypt's rulers have made no secret of their hostility to independent journalism. But for a court to sentence journalists to death would represent a new low," CPJ's MENA representative Sherif Mansour said. "We call on Egyptian prosecutors not to contest any appeals filed by the journalists' lawyers."
The group also reported on Al-Jazeera's condemnation of the ruling, stating that the news outlet called it "unjust, shocking, and outrageous."