The British Government is appalled by the sentences given to Egyptian and international journalists in Cairo on 23 June, including to two British Nationals being tried in absentia. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), made a statement on 23 June expressing his concerns and urging the Egyptian government to demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression by reviewing this case as a matter of urgency.
The Egyptian Ambassador Ashraf el-Kholy was summoned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on 23 June. FCO Political Director, Simon Gass, told the Egyptian Ambassador that the Government was deeply concerned by the verdicts, along with the procedural shortcomings seen during the trials. Our Ambassador in Egypt raised this issue in Cairo with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24 June. We will continue to monitor the situation of these journalists very closely, and raise them with the Egyptian authorities. We look to President Al-Sisi to take steps to implement the rights contained in Egypt’s constitution, in particular freedom of expression and association.
As I stated in my response of 11 February to your parliamentary question regarding the imprisonment of journalists in Egypt, the Government believes a free and robust press is the bedrock of democracy.