CAIRO – An Egyptian court Saturday recommended the death sentence against six people, including two Al-Jazeera employees, for allegedly passing documents related to national security to Qatar and the Doha-based TV network during the rule of President Mohammed Morsi.
A verdict on Morsi, an Islamist ousted by the military in July 2013 after one year in office, and four other defendants in the case, will be announced June 18, according to Judge Mohammed Shirin Fahmy. Morsi’s co-defendants include two top aides from his year in office.
The two Al-Jazeera employees – identified by the judge as news producer Alaa Omar Mohammed and news editor Ibrahim Mohammed Hilal – were sentenced in absentia along with Asmaa al-Khateib, who worked for Rasd, a media network widely suspected of links to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was banned and declared a terrorist group after Morsi’s ouster.
Mohammed and Hilal, who are not in Egypt, would be retried in the event of their surrender to Egyptian authorities.
“Al Jazeera media network rejects the absurd allegations that they (Mohammed and Hilal) were in collaboration with the elected government of Mohammed Morsi,” a spokesman for Al-Jazeera said in an email to the Associated Press.
Egypt’s relations with Qatar have been fraught with tension since the ouster of Morsi, who enjoyed the support of the tiny but wealthy Gulf state.
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