'New York Times' Ad Supports Al Jazeera Journalists With A Blank Page

No, it wasn't a mistake. On Wednesday, in support of imprisoned journalists at Al Jazeera, The New York Times published a blank, full-page ad from Al Jazeera reading "This is what happens when you silence journalism" to make a powerful point about freedom of the press in the wake of journalist convictions in Egypt. On Monday, the country sentenced Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy to seven years in prison, and Baher Mohamed to ten years, for the crime of, well, doing their jobs. The journalists had already been held in the country for six months when the verdict was handed down.

The ad also included a note reading "Show your support" and displayed both the logo for Journalism is Not a Crime, a campaign for press freedom, and #FreeAJStaff, a hashtag trending in support of the imprisoned journalists.

After the journalists were sentenced, The New York Times, one of many outlets to speak out against the journalists' sentence, printed an editorial calling the decision an attempt to "crush all dissent."

The alarming verdict sends a chilling and intimidating message not just to other journalists working in the country but to Egyptian citizens as well.

There wasn't any real evidence presented at trial that the journalists, who were convicted of terrorist charges, did anything wrong. In fact, the Times editorial notes that when presenting evidence of the crimes, the prosecution "showed images of one journalist’s family vacation and horses grazing in Luxor, Egypt."

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And Secretary of State John Kerry joined in the condemnation, releasing a statement earlier this week calling the journalists' sentences "draconian." He suggested pardoning them.

(The trial result) is a deeply disturbing set-back to Egypt's transition. Injustices like these simply cannot stand if Egypt is to move forward in the way that President al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukry told me just yesterday that they aspire to see their country advance.
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Other news outlets, including the BBC, have expressed solidarity for the journalists and opposition to the verdict. But the most heartbreaking response came from Peter Greste's parents, Juris and Lois Greste. Juris Greste had this to say at a news conference on the verdict:

We're not usually a family of superlatives, but I have to say this morning my vocabulary fails to convey just how shattered we are. You can never prepare yourself for something as painful as this. Journalism is not a crime, or you should all be behind bars. It's a simple as that. Our son Peter is an award-winning journalist. He is not a criminal.

Newsrooms and others all over the world echoed that online, using the #FreeAJStaff hashtag: