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PTI Cairo: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador in Cairo on Sunday to protest comments he made after a judge sentenced three Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years prison each for reporting "false news. speaking to Egyptians outside the British embassy in Cairo. AP Speaking to television cameras in Arabic after the verdict Casson said he was "shocked and concerned by the sentences" in a case that is of "profound interest to Egyptians because it has become a symbol of the basis for stability in the new Egypt" "I am concerned that today’s ruling will undermine confidence in the basis of Egypt’s stability both in Egypt and abroad" he said Several other foreign diplomats at the trial also condemned the verdict but Casson may have been the only one to speak in Arabic to domestic television stations The United States the European Union the United Nations and human rights advocacy groups and press freedom organizations also sharply criticised it Casson’s comments were posted on the British Embassy’s Facebook page and met with a wave of negative reaction in Arabic and English He also posted similar comments on Twitter where he is one of the most widely-followed Western diplomats in Egypt with nearly 28000 followers The British Embassy said Casson met Hisham Seif al-Din chief of staff to Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the ministry’s request on Sunday "Ambassador Casson explained the UK position on yesterday’s court ruling set out in statements in London and Cairo yesterday" it said in a statement adding that he would transmit the Egyptian side’s concerns to government ministers in London The trial entangled the journalists’ work in the wider political conflict between Egypt and Qatar where Al-Jazeera is based following the Egyptian army’s 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi Evidence presented at the trial ventured into the absurd including music videos and footage of animals which defense lawyers and even the judge dismissed as irrelevant Third party observers say no evidence proved the charges and critics described the case as politically motivated Besides the "false news" charge Judge Hassan Farid said in his ruling that he sentenced the men because they had not registered with the country’s journalist syndicate brought in equipment without security officials’ approval and used central Cairo’s Marriott hotel as a broadcasting point without permission Greste was deported to Australia in February and sentenced Saturday in absentia The three are now seeking a pardon from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who has personally expressed regret over the long-running trial and the damage it has done to Egypt’s international reputation If a pardon is not granted they will appeal once the full verdict is released in the next 30 days Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney who represented Fahmy on Saturday said she and Canadian Ambassador Troy Lulashnyk would be meeting with Egyptian officials to press for a presidential pardon In an interview Sunday with the BBC Clooney urged President Sisi to issue a pardon "that would apply to all journalists not just those who are foreign" She said it was ironic that "the conviction was for tarnishing Egypt’s reputation when the thing that the international community condemns Egypt for is this case and similar cases This is what’s tarnishing Egypt’s image I do think that he (Sisi) is aware of that and he has a way to fix it" "I think we all know what’s at stake" she added "It’s media freedom in Egypt and in the region This is a case that’s going to set a precedent one way or another And it’s also about the integrity of the judicial process" The case began in December 2013 when Egyptian security forces raided the hotel suite used by Al-Jazeera at the time to report from Egypt Authorities arrested Fahmy Greste and Mohammed later charging them with allegedly being part of the Muslim Brotherhood which authorities have declared a terrorist organisation and airing falsified footage intended to damage national security The three were convicted on 23 June 2014 with Greste and Fahmy sentenced to seven years in prison and Mohammed to 10 years for being found with a spent bullet casing That ruling was later overturned on appeal by Egypt’s Court of Cassation which said the initial proceedings were marred by violations of the defendants’ rights but a retrial was ordered Two other British journalists for Al-Jazeera were also sentenced to 10 years in that original trial but managed to leave the country beforehand and could not file an appeal Casson urged the government to take "urgent steps" to resolve their position The arrests came in the wake of the military’s ouster that summer of the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi Egypt’s first freely elected president after mass protests against his rule Since then Egypt has cracked down on his supporters and accused the three journalists of being Brotherhood mouthpieces Al-Jazeera and the journalists have denied the allegations At the time of the arrests Qatar and Egypt were at odds over Doha’s support of Islamist groups and the Brotherhood In the time since Qatar which funds Al-Jazeera has expelled some Brotherhood members and made overtures toward easing tensions with Egypt though the Qatari government continues to support some Islamists in the region AP Dehradun: The annual Char Dham pilgrimage hasbegun with the reopening of the portals of Badrinath shrine inthe Garhwal hills after the winter break amid chants of Vedichymns Elaborate rituals preceded the formal opening of theHimalayan temple located at a height of 10279 feet on Wednesday a senior Badrinath-Kedarnath Samiti official said The other three Himalayan temples on the circuit –Kedranath Gangotri and Yamunotri — had reopened on 9 May With reopening of Badrinath temple the annual Char Dham yatrahas begun Badrinath Temple Wikimedia commons Badrinath shrine Chief Priest Ishwar Prasad Nambudirithrew the temple doors open in the wee hours in the presenceof Mandir Samiti officials and thousands of devotees amidchants of Vedic hymns and "Jai Badri Vishal" Over 8000 devotees visited the temple located on thebanks of Alaknanda river on the first day he said FormerUttarakhand chief minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri alsooffered prayers at the shrine The four Himalayan temples are closed every year withthe onset of the winter when they remain snowbound BEIRUT Lebanon’s Hezbollah group on Monday said it would retaliate for the killing of prominent militant Samir Qantar in an Israeli air strike in Syria after giving him an elaborate funeral in Beirut of the kind reserved for its top commanders Thousands of people chanted "death to Israel" as Hezbollah fighters in military uniforms carried Qantar’s coffin which was wrapped by the group’s yellow flag to a Shi’ite Muslim cemetery in its south Beirut stronghold where he was laid to rest "We have no doubt or question that Israel is the one which assassinated Samir Qantar its planes fired precision missiles on a residential apartment (he was in)" Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech aired on the group’s al-Manar television channel "Samir is one of us a commander of our resistance and it is our right to retaliate for his assassination in the place time and way we see appropriate" Nasrallah said "We will exercise this right God willing Everyone should bear this mind" A number of Syrians were also killed in the attack he said Qantar was jailed in Israel for his part in a 1979 raid in Israel that killed four people He was a member of a Palestinian militant group then Qantar was repatriated to Lebanon in 2008 in a prisoner swap with Hezbollah which he then joined Israel welcomed his death saying he had been preparing attacks on it from Syrian soil but stopped short of confirming responsibility for the air strike on Saturday that killed him "We in a firm and definite way hold the Zionist enemy responsible for assassinating him" Nasrallah said Qantar born in 1962 kept a low public profile after Israel freed him Hezbollah did not say what role he played in Syria’s ongoing conflict in which Hezbollah is fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad But Syrian state media said he was involved in a major offensive earlier this year in Quneitra near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights In January an Israeli air strike in Syria killed six members of Hezbollah including a commander and the son of the its late military chief Imad Moughniyah near the Golan Heights In a symbolic gesture at Monday’s funeral Hezbollah fighters carrying Qantar’s coffin stopped by the grave of Moughniyah where they took the group’s official oath and pledged loyalty to Nasrallah "If the Israelis think by killing Samir Qantar they have closed an account then they are very mistaken because they know and will come to know that they have instead opened several more" Hashem Safeieddine a senior official in the powerful Shi’ite militant movement said at the funeral (Additional reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Dominic Evans) This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feedbut have kept in place transparent price-based controls that can be imposed by the government. In addition to the above,Shivkar identifies his walks as serious academic activities.

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