Egyptian court recommends death penalty for journalists, Mursi verdict postponed
CAIRO – An Egyptian court on Saturday sought the death penalty for three journalists and three others charged with endangering national security by leaking state secrets and documents to Qatar.
The final ruling is expected on June 18, after the sentence has been referred to the top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion.
The verdict against former president Mohamed Mursi, who is charged in the same case, was postponed to the same day.
The three journalists, one Jordanian, were sentenced in absentia. Two of them work for Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera. They can appeal.
The sentence is the latest since a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood after an army takeover stripped Mursi of power in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. Mursi and other Brotherhood leaders, as well as leading figures from the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, many of them secular activists and journalists, are now in jail.
Mursi has been sentenced in three other cases, including the death penalty for a mass jail break during the 2011 uprising and a life sentence for spying on behalf of Hamas.
Qatar had supported Mursi, who is in jail along with thousands of Brotherhood members, many of whom have been sentenced to death on separate charges.
Relations between Qatar, a Gulf Arab state, and Egypt have been icy since July 2013 when Egypt’s then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mursi.
Sisi says the Brotherhood poses a serious threat to security despite the crackdown, which has weakened what was once Egypt’s most organized political group. –Reuters