'Devil guided journalists', says Egypt court

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The Egyptian court that convicted and sentenced to jail three al-Jazeera journalists for purported ties to the banned Muslim Brotherhood said on Tuesday that "the devil guided" the group to spread false news defaming the country, reports The Guardian.

The Cairo court's June 23 verdict against Australian-Latvian journalist Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed came after their detention last December for allegedly aiding the blacklisted political movement and falsifying news that portrayed Egypt as being in a state of "civil war".

The jailing of the Qatar-based media group's field team sparked international outrage. Greste and Fahmy received seven-year terms, while Mohamed got a 10-year sentence.

Eleven defendants tried in absentia, including one Dutch and two British journalists, were also given 10-year sentences.

"The defendants took advantage of the noble profession of journalism … and turned it from a profession aimed at looking for the truth to a profession aimed at falsifying the truth," the court announced in a release Tuesday.

"The devil guided them to use journalism and direct it toward activities against this nation," it said.

Since the army's coup against Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the authorities have been furious at the Qatari network's coverage of their deadly crackdown on the Brotherhood, which it deemed a terrorist organization around the time of the journalists' arrest.

They regard al-Jazeera as the voice of Qatar, and accuse Doha of backing the Brotherhood, as the emirate openly condemns the supression of the movement, and the killing of more than 1,400 people since the crackdown began.

Sixteen of a total of 20 defendants in the trial were Egyptians accused of membership in the Brotherhood.

Foreign defendants were alleged to have collaborated with and assisted their Egyptian co-defendants by providing media material, as well as editing and broadcasting it.

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