WASHINGTON, June 23 (UPI) -- A White House statement Monday condemned the court sentences of Al Jazeera reporters in Egypt, calling the verdicts a "blow to democratic progress in Egypt."
Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy received seven-year sentences, and colleague Baher Mohamed a 10-year sentence, after being found guilty of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and fabricating stories unfavorable to Egypt's military rulers.
Twelve other people received guilty verdicts in the trial, which was regarded a travesty of justice by human rights organizations and media.
According to a White House statement:
"The prosecution of journalists for reporting information that does not coincide with the government of Egypt's narrative flouts the most basic standards of media freedom and represents a blow to democratic progress in Egypt. As we have said many times before, democracy is about more than elections. True democracy requires thriving democratic institutions, including a vibrant free press that is empowered to hold the government accountable to the people."
It urged Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to pardon the journalists and review Egypt's human rights legislation, adding, "The United States will continue to stand with the Egyptian people as they seek to realize the rights for which they have long struggled."