Egypt summons UK ambassador over al-Jazeera trial remarks

John Casson Image copyright AP
Image caption John Casson criticised an Egyptian court's decision to jail three journalists

Britain's ambassador to Egypt has been summoned to the country's foreign ministry over his "unacceptable interference" following the trial of three al-Jazeera journalists.

Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were each jailed for three years on Saturday for "spreading false news".

Ambassador John Casson said he was "shocked and concerned" by the ruling.

Egyptian authorities objected to his remarks and Mr Casson has attended a meeting with officials.

In comments made outside the court and on Facebook, Mr Casson said the court's decision would "undermine confidence in Egypt's stability".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mohamed Fahmy (left), Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were freed before their retrial

Egypt's foreign ministry called his words "unacceptable interference" in the country's judiciary.

Twitter users in Egypt have also called for Mr Casson to be expelled over his comments, with more than 800 users tweeting the "expel_the_British_ambassador" hashtag.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the British Embassy in Cairo said the ambassador "explained the UK's position on the court ruling, especially in light of the fact that two British nationals were involved in the case".

Two British journalists working for al-Jazeera were sentenced in absentia in the original trial last year.

Canadian-Egyptian Mr Fahmy and Egyptian Mr Mohamed were led away to begin their sentences after Saturday's verdict.

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Media captionAmal Clooney: "This is what's tarnishing Egypt's image"

Mr Greste was deported back to his home country of Australia earlier this year and was on trial in absentia.

Giving the verdict, judge Hassan Farid said the three men were not registered journalists and had been operating from a Cairo hotel without a licence.

Their lawyers are expected to appeal.

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