UN freedom of expression expert slams Egypt over sentences for Al Jazeera English journalists

A top U.N. official has criticized the prison sentences given to three Al Jazeera English journalists in a court in Egypt and is calling for their immediate release.

The United Nations office in Geneva says special rapporteur for freedom of expression David Kaye expressed alarm at "increasing intimidation, harassment and prosecution" of the media and civil society in Egypt.

Kaye said in the U.N. statement Wednesday that the verdict "sends a signal that ... freedom of expression is not respected in Egypt."

The court on Saturday sentenced Canadian Mohammed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohammed to three years prison each for reporting "false news." Greste was deported to Australia in February and sentenced in absentia, while Fahmy and Mohammed remain behind bars.