CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court sentenced three Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years in prison on Saturday for broadcasting “false news,” sparking an international outcry and underlining how authorities are trampling over free speech just over a year into general-turned-politician Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s presidency.

The men are now seeking a pardon from el-Sissi, who has personally expressed regret over the long-running trial and the damage it has done to Egypt’s international reputation — saying it would have been better to simply deport the journalists. Al Jazeera said it will also appeal the verdict, once the court releases its full ruling in the next 30 days.

Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed’s case had embroiled their work into the wider political conflict between Egypt and Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based, following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The verdict comes just weeks after el-Sissi issued a new anti-terrorism law, which sets a sweeping definition for who could face a harsh set of punishments, including journalists who don’t toe the government line. The new law, like Saturday’s verdict, has drawn criticism from diplomats, press freedom advocates and human rights organizations.

Greste, who was deported from Egypt in February, said he believed an Egyptian appeals court would overturn the verdict, and called on el-Sissi to pardon him and his colleagues. Fahmy and Mohammed, both on hand for Saturday’s hearing, were immediately taken away by police after the hearing.

“In the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing, the only conclusion that we can come to is that this verdict was politically motivated,” Greste told reporters in Sydney on Sunday. “President Sissi now has an opportunity to undo that injustice. The eyes of the world are on Egypt.”

Mostefa Souag, Al-Jazeera’s acting director-general, also criticized the verdict, saying it “defies logic and common sense.”

“The whole case has been heavily politicized and has not been conducted in a free and fair manner,” Souag said in a statement. “There is no evidence proving that our colleagues in any way fabricated news or aided and abetted terrorist organizations and at no point during the long drawn out retrial did any of the unfounded allegations stand up to scrutiny.”

Judge Hassan Farid, in his ruling, said he sentenced the men to prison because they had not registered with the country’s journalist syndicate. He also said the men brought in equipment without security officials’ approval, had broadcast “false news” on Al-Jazeera and used a hotel as a broadcasting point without permission.

Fahmy’s wife, Marwa, broke down in tears as the verdict was read out, with others sobbing in the courtroom.

“I am asking for justice, for fairness,” she said while leaving the court. “I feel extremely disappointed because I love my country and I know that Mohammed loves his country. … It’s really hard for us.”

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who represented Fahmy on Saturday, said she would be meeting with Egyptian officials later in the day along with Canadian Ambassador Troy Lulashnyk to press for a presidential pardon.

“The verdict today sends a very dangerous message in Egypt,” Clooney said. “Journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news. And it sends a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political repression and propaganda.”

“We are now going to be holding in Cairo a series of meetings with government officials where we will be asking for a pardon, in this case, and if a pardon is not immediately available then deportation to Canada,” she said.

Egypt regularly pardons convicts, especially around national and religious holidays. During this summer’s holy month of Ramadan, for example, authorities pardoned 165 people arrested for breaking a much-decried law banning unauthorized protests.

Lulashnyk said Canada was deeply disappointed by the outcome and would push for Fahmy’s freedom.

“We are calling for (Fahmy’s) full and immediate release and his return to Canada, and this is now the time for the government to make that happen,” he said.

The case began in December 2013, when Egyptian security forces raided the upscale hotel suite used by Al-Jazeera at the time to report from Egypt. The journalists began using the hotel as a base of operations after the Al-Jazeera English office near Tahrir Square was raided by police. Authorities arrested Fahmy, Greste and Mohammed, later charging them with allegedly being part of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which authorities have declared a terrorist organization, and airing falsified footage intended to damage national security.

Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was removed from power by the military in July 2013 after mass public protests against his rule. Since Morsi’s ouster, Egypt has cracked down heavily on his supporters, and the journalists were accused of being mouthpieces for the Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera and the journalists have denied the allegations, saying they were simply reporting the news.

At the time of the journalists’ arrests, Qatar and Egypt had been increasingly 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.

At trial, prosecutors used news clips about an animal hospital with donkeys and horses, and another about Christian life in Egypt, as evidence the journalists broke the law. Defense lawyers — and even the judge — dismissed the videos as irrelevant.

Nonetheless, the three men were convicted on June 23, 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.

Three Egyptian students accused of supporting the Brotherhood with propaganda and video footage were also sentenced to three years each in the verdict, while two other people were acquitted.

On Saturday, Mohammed received an additional six months for being in possession of a “bullet,” according to the text of the court decision carried by the Egyptian state news agency MENA. It wasn’t immediately clear why Saturday’s verdict referred to a “bullet,” rather than a spent bullet casing.

The case has brought a landslide of international condemnation and calls for el-Sissi, who as military chief led the overthrow of Morsi, to intervene. Egypt deported Greste in February, though he remained charged in the case. Fahmy and Mohammed were later released on bail.

Fahmy was asked to give up his Egyptian nationality by Egyptian officials in order to qualify for deportation. It’s not clear why he wasn’t deported, though Fahmy said he thinks Canada could have pressed Cairo harder on the matter.

Angered by Al-Jazeera’s handling of the case, Fahmy has filed a lawsuit in Canada seeking $100 million from the broadcaster, saying that it put the story ahead of employee safety and used its Arabic-language channels to advocate for the Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera has said Fahmy should seek compensation from Egypt.

The European Union and the Committee to Protect Journalists criticized the verdict as well, with the advocacy group saying it was “emblematic of the threats faced by journalists in Egypt,” where it says at least 22 journalists are wrongfully behind bars.


Associated Press writer Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai authorities arrested a foreign man they said had been holed up in a suburban apartment with bomb-making equipment and stacks of passports, the first possible breakthrough in the deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine nearly two weeks ago.

Police and soldiers on Saturday raided the apartment in a non-descript concrete building on the outskirts of eastern Bangkok and found bomb-making materials that matched those used in the Aug. 17 blast at the Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok, police said.

The blast, which killed 20 people and injured more than 120, was followed a day later by another explosion at a public ferry pier, which caused no injuries but exacerbated concerns about safety in the Thai capital, which draws millions of tourists.

“Our preliminary investigation shows that he is related to both bombings,” national police spokesman Prawuth Thavornsiri said in the televised statement. He showed photographs of the suspect — a young man with short brown hair and a light beard and mustache. Police identified him only as a 28-year-old foreigner, without releasing a name.

Police also showed photographs of detonators, ball bearings and a metal pipe that they believe was intended to hold a bomb.

“The bomb materials are the same, similar or the same type” as those used in both bombings, police chief Somyot Poompanmoung told reporters. He added that the suspect had traveled in and out of Thailand since January 2014.

Police also found “a number of passports from one country,” Prawuth said. He did not name the country, but photographs showed stacks of passports that were similar to those from Turkey.

Earlier, Prawuth said that authorities had not yet determined his nationality and dismissed Thai news reports saying he is Turkish. Images of a Turkish passport with the apparent suspect’s picture were posted on social media.

“The passport you see is fake,” said Prawuth, referring to the online photos. “We don’t know if he is Turkish or not.”

A Turkish government spokesman said he had no information on the suspect held or any possible Turkish link to the attack. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with Turkish government rules that bar officials from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.

Asked what could be the motive for the bombing, the police chief told reporters, “it’s a personal grudge .. not international terrorism.” He did not elaborate or give a clear explanation.

The man faced charges of possessing unauthorized explosives, Prawuth said, and was taken to a military base for further interrogation.

The blast at the Erawan Shrine was unprecedented in the Thai capital, where smaller bombs have been employed in domestic political violence over the past decade, but not in an effort to cause large-scale casualties.

The shrine is a popular tourist destination, particularly with Chinese visitors, who are an important segment of the lucrative tourist market. At least six of the dead were from China and Hong Kong. It sits on the corner of a busy traffic intersection with a nearby overhead walkway in a neighborhood full of upscale shopping malls and five-star hotels.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, sparking a variety of theories into who might be behind it.

Possible suspects include parties seeking to avenge Thailand’s forced repatriation of ethnic Uighurs to China. Uighurs are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to a large Uighur community.

Other theories included Muslim separatists from southern Thailand, opponents of Thailand’s military government and feuding factions within the security services.

Soon after the bombing, police released an artist’s sketch of a man seen in a security camera video leaving a backpack at a bench then walking away from the open-air shrine. A separate camera showed the man, wearing a yellow T-shirt, on the back of a motorcycle taxi leaving the site.

The man seen in the video was believed to have carried out the bombing, which police said was likely planned by a group of people. They indicated in Saturday’s news conference that the man arrested was not the bomber seen in the video.

“We believe he is a culprit in the same network. More details will be given later,” Prawuth said.

Police have been criticized for releasing conflicting statements and rapidly hosing down the crime scene at the shrine before all forensic evidence was recovered. Many accused authorities of rushing to clean up the bomb scene to reassure the public — especially foreign tourists — that security in the city was back to normal.

Police say they have been handicapped by low-quality and broken surveillance cameras and a lack of sophisticated image-processing equipment to clarify the fuzzy images in security videos, which were the only firm evidence they had.


Associated Press journalists Papitchaya Boonngok in Bangkok and Suzan Fraser in Istanbul contributed to this report.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A shark that was seen circling kayakers has led lifeguards to close a San Diego County beach.

A 1 1/2-mile stretch of beach from La Jolla Cove to Scripps Pier was closed Saturday afternoon after a confirmed sighting of the 8- to 10-foot hammerhead shark.

San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Lee Swanson said the shark appeared to be acting aggressively toward a group of kayakers and followed them into shore.

Lifeguards reviewed a video taken by a kayaker of the shark and ordered the beach closed. A marine biologist at the nearby Scripps Institution of Oceanography confirmed that the size, species and behavior of the shark warranted the closure.

Swanson said there have been no additional sightings. Lifeguards will reassess the water Sunday morning to decide whether to reopen the beach.

The on-air shooting deaths of Virginia TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward and the suicide five hours later of gunman Vester Flanagan played out in a sort of surreal time, spilling from TV screens within range of the Roanoke station’s signal to horrified viewers the world over via social media. Five hours of horror, delivered in electronic bursts.

Here’s how it unfolded from when the “Mornin'” show crew arrived for work Wednesday until Flanagan, who was fired from the station two years earlier, shot himself on Interstate 66 about 200 miles away.


4:17 a.m.: “@KimberlyWDBJ Congrats to our awesome @WDBJMornin producer Melissa Ott on her new job in Charlotte. We will miss you!”

WDBJ morning anchor Kimberly McBroom tweets a picture of Ott. It is her last day at the station. Ott, Ward’s fiancee, is moving to a job in a bigger market in North Carolina. Ward brings flowers. Parker brings balloons. McBroom brings the cake.

After a brief celebration, everyone goes to work.

5 a.m.: The “Mornin'” show starts.

5:10 a.m.: Parker and Ward have their first live segment from an outdoor shopping center in Moneta, about 45 minutes outside town. They are doing a feature on the tourist community of Smith Mountain Lake.

6:12 a.m.: “@KimberlyWDBJ Next year marks @smlchamber 50th anniversary! @AParkerWDBJ7 is live with how they’re already planning to celebrate.”

McBroom teases the live crew’s story of the day. She often tweets during program breaks. Sometimes she promotes what is coming up. Sometimes the messages are more personal, like happy birthday to a co-worker.

6:45 a.m.: Some 40,000 viewers watch Parker’s last scheduled live spot interviewing Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce. Among them is Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton. He knows Parker and Ward, having done a live shot with them a few weeks earlier.

Gardner talks about bringing in tourists. Ward pans the camera out toward the lake and a miniature golf course before bringing it back to a tight shot of Parker interviewing Gardner.

6:46 a.m.: Eight shots ring out on air. Parker looks panicked, screams and runs. Ward’s camera falls, catching a brief glimpse of a gunman in dark clothing.

Ott sees the whole thing unfold from the control room. The feed quickly switches back to McBroom at the anchor desk. She looks stunned for just a moment, then regains her composure.

“OK. Not sure what happened there. We will of course let you know as soon as we find out what those sounds were from,” she says, sending the show to commercial.

“Like many others watching this morning’s broadcast, I couldn’t understand myself what was happening at the time,” the sheriff says later.

Ward’s camera is still rolling. It shows an empty boardwalk, with his arm in the shot.

Back at the station, the staff hears emergency crews arrive over the feed from the camera. Someone at the scene says, “Three down.”

7:03 a.m.: “@WDBJ7 We are trying to figure out what just happened — thank you for all your concern and kind words.”

The station has begun its regular airing of “This Morning” on CBS.

7:12 a.m.: A local viewer who captured WDBJ’s video of the shooting posts it to Twitter and Facebook. It spreads quickly, starting with television reporters in other markets.

8:26 a.m.: A 23-page fax from Flanagan arrives at ABC News in New York, detailing his reasons for the killings. In it, Flanagan writes he admires other mass killers and felt discriminated against all his life because he was a gay black man. He writes: “I’ve been a human powder keg for a while . just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”

8:45 a.m.: WDBJ breaks into programming. General Manager Jeffrey Marks said it is his “very, very sad duty to report” Parker and Ward are dead.

9:31 a.m.: “@chrishurstwdbj She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother.”

Parker’s boyfriend, WDBJ evening anchor Chris Hurst, sends four tweets. One is a picture of them together. He calls their nine-month relationship the best time of their lives. He writes he is numb.

Hurst said he made Parker a smoothie and scrambled eggs for breakfast. He would see her when he came home from the evening show and she was getting ready for the morning show. Her last text to him was “good night sweet boy.”

About 10:05 a.m.: Flanagan calls ABC News and admits to the killings. He says authorities are “after me” and “all over the place” and hangs up. ABC immediately alerts investigators to the fax.

10:08 a.m.: Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe starts his “Ask The Governor” segment on WTOP-FM in Washington with an update saying the shooter was a disgruntled employee and police were in pursuit.

10:17 a.m.: The first tweets are made with Flanagan’s name and car from information heard over the Virginia State Police’s radio system.

Flanagan leaves his Ford Mustang at Roanoke Regional Airport and heads up Interstate 81 in a rental car. He sends a text to a friend saying he did something stupid. Scanner traffic from that morning had police trying to track him based on what cellphone towers were being used by his iPhone.

10:24 a.m.: “@WTOP An update on the pursuit from #VA Gov.: State Police are right behind the suspected shooter, have his license plate.”

WTOP’s tweet came just after McAuliffe says on the radio show that an arrest in the shooting is “imminent.” State police send out a news release clarifying they weren’t in a chase with Flanagan.

Virginia State Police have now realized Flanagan has switched cars. They issue a bulletin on his rental car over their radio network. Twitter users listening to the scanner traffic available on the Internet share that information. It is widely retweeted. It also leads to a rash of tweets and media reports giving his first name as “Lester” rather than “Vester.”

10:26 a.m.: “@WDBJ7 Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce was hurt in the shooting. We are told she is in surgery. “

Gardner is recovering from being shot in the back.

About 11 a.m.: State police issue a frame grab of the shooter taken from WDBJ’s footage. It shows him aiming a pistol toward Ward’s camera on the ground.

“Is he coming to the station?” assistant news director Greg Baldwin later tells ABC about what was going through his head once he realized the suspect’s identity. “Is he coming to the station to kill us all?”

11:09 a.m.: “@bryce—williams7 Alison made racist comments”

Flanagan makes the first of several tweets from an accounting using his on-air name of Bryce Williams.

11:09 a.m.: “@bryce—williams7 EEOC report filed”

11:10 a.m.: “@bryce—williams7 They hired her after that???”

11:11 a.m.: “@bryce—williams7 Adam went to hr on me after working with me one time!!!”

11:11 a.m.: “@bryce—williams7 I filmed the shooting see Facebook”

11:15 a.m.: Two videos arrive within a minute of each other on the Bryce Williams page. They show the beginning and end of the shooting from the gunman’s perspective. The same video in a single continuous shot is posted to Williams’ Facebook page.

The gunman quietly walks up to the interview. He points his gun at Parker. He is breathing heavy and quietly curses her. She doesn’t look his way and continues to interview Gardner.

He turns to Ward. He waits 20 seconds for Ward to pan back to Parker. He points his gun at the reporter and fires. She screams and runs as eight quick shots are heard. The picture goes black.

At least seven more ring out, more methodically now.

11:30 a.m.: A machine that can read license plates on cars as they drive alerts a Virginia state trooper to Flanagan’s rented Chevrolet Sonic. She follows the silver sedan on Interstate 66 approaching Washington and verifies the tag number.

Backup arrives and they turn on their blue lights and try to pull Flanagan over. He refuses to stop. His car swerves and crashes.

Police find two Glock pistols, three license plates and a wig in the vehicle.

11:35 a.m.: “@wattsupbrent Our #WDBJ crew was literally ambushed this morning. Please DO NOT share, or post the video.”

WDBJ chief meteorologist Brent Watts’ plea is retweeted more than 2,000 times. Flanagan’s videos are on Twitter and Facebook less than an hour before both sites delete them. But the videos still rapidly spread. The autoplay feature on the social media sites start the clips without some people even clicking.

11:48 a.m.: “WDBJ7 #BREAKING: Man suspected of killing two WDBJ7 employees kills himself on I-66 in Fauquier Co.”

Media outlets later retract the report. Flanagan had a weak pulse and was rushed to a hospital.

1:13 p.m.: Watts retweets a picture taken by a station photographer of the cabinet where Ward kept his camera gear. Above the cabinet is yellow tape that says “Adam 7.”

“@wattsupbrent May this tape NEVER be removed. RT @Photog—Josh: #WDBJ7″

1:26 p.m.: Flanagan dies at Inova Fairfax Hospital near Washington. An autopsy determines he killed himself with a gunshot to the head.


4:36 a.m. Thursday: “@KimberlyWDBJ Preparing for a very difficult @WDBJ7Mornin broadcast. But I am strengthened by your love and condolences. We will get through this together.”

6:45 a.m.: With Ott’s balloons and flowers still in the newsroom, the “Mornin'” show holds a moment of silence. McBroom holds hands with the longtime morning weather man and an anchor from a visiting station.

12:20 p.m.: “@KimberlyWDBJ This has been the toughest day of my career, but I will carry on for @AParkerWDBJ7 and Adam @dowork88. I miss and love you both so much.”


Collins can be reached at

There is no question that the most talked-about topic heading into the U.S. Open is Serena Williams’ Grand Slam bid. Even if she does dominate the conversation, a certain “Big Four” of men’s tennis will provide plenty to discuss, too, as usual.

No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic, for example, has been nearly as dominant as Williams in 2015. He won the Australian Open, was the runner-up at the French Open, then won Wimbledon, part of a 56-5 season that includes six titles and 10 consecutive appearances in tournament finals.

Given his excellence on hard courts, it’s hard to believe he’s earned the trophy only once at Flushing Meadows.

Five-time U.S. Open winner Roger Federer is 34, hasn’t won a Grand Slam championship in more than three years — and yet the No. 2-seeded Swiss star might just be as much of a threat as anyone to be in Arthur Ashe Stadium on the second Sunday. He made it all the way to the final at Wimbledon before losing to Djokovic, then beat the Serb for the hard-court Cincinnati Masters title this month.

“Still not very happy with my form and with my game,” Djokovic said after that loss to Federer, “but I have a week to work on it.”

No. 3 Andy Murray also defeated Djokovic in a hard-court final in August, at Montreal, and has made it to two semifinals and one final at this year’s majors. Like Djokovic and Federer, he is a past U.S. Open champion.

Rafael Nadal is worth keeping an eye on for the simple reason that no one quite knows how well he’ll play. He hardly has performed up to the standards that earned 14 Grand Slam titles, including two at the U.S. Open, and is seeded only No. 8. Nadal faces what could be a truly tough test in his opening match against 18-year-old Borna Coric. Get past that, then win three more matches, and Nadal could face Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

Here are other things to watch at the U.S. Open, which begins Monday in New York:


Maria Sharapova is a five-time major champion, including at the 2006 U.S. Open, but she’s hardly match-ready. She hasn’t competed since her semifinal loss to Williams at Wimbledon in July, sidelined since by an injured right leg. “You always have to believe in the ability to go through the little things that you might have,” Sharapova said. “There’s no athlete who’s ever 100 percent healthy.”


Murray’s first-round opponent is Nick Kyrgios, a 20-year-old Australian who has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently. During a match in August, a courtside microphone picked up Kyrgios telling his opponent, two-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, that another Australian player had slept with Wawrinka’s girlfriend. Kyrgios was fined by the ATP — and is on probation for the next six months, with an additional fine and a 28-day suspension threatened. Both Kyrgios and Wawrinka will be dealing with that episode’s fallout.


Federer showed off a new, net-rushing, half-volley return in Cincinnati, so it will be interesting to see how much he uses that at the U.S. Open. “I’ll always mix it up,” he said, “and make it, I guess, uncomfortable for my opponent.”


Mardy Fish, a 32-year-old American once ranked in the top 10, will be playing the final tournament of his career after dealing with anxiety disorder, which forced him to withdraw from the 2012 U.S. Open. His first-round opponent is 102nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy, who has never played a Grand Slam match and is 0-6 in tour-level matches.


Fans still have to sit out rain delays at Arthur Ashe Stadium for one more year, but they’ll get a break from the sun. The framework to support a retractable roof has been installed above the tournament’s main court, providing shade for part of the upper deck, which used to bake on hot days. The fully operational roof is scheduled to be in place for the 2016 U.S. Open. Four new video screens also have been added at Ashe, replacing the previous two.


AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen in New York contributed to this report.

BEIRUT (AP) — A cease-fire between a coalition of Syrian rebels and Hezbollah fighters in a Syrian border town and two northern Shiite villages collapsed Saturday for the second time this month amid rare Iranian-mediated talks.

The Islamic Army, or Jaysh Fatah group, said on its social media accounts that its fighters have resumed targeting locations of Hezbollah fighters near Foua, a Shiite village in the mostly-rebel control Idlib province, posting a video of the shelling.

Hezbollah al-Manar TV also reported that the cease-fire declared Thursday had collapsed, reporting shelling in both Foua and Kfarya.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, both groups with an extensive network of activists on the ground, said fighting also resumed in the town of Zaabadani near the Lebanese border. The Observatory said government warplanes bombed areas with barrel bombs.

The Local Committees said Syrian government forces also shelled Madaya, a village near Zabadani where many civilians fled.

Fighting over Zabadani, which lies near the road between Damascus and Lebanon, has raged since July after Hezbollah fighters joined the government forces to repel the rebels. The rebels, who once controlled Zabadani, retaliated by attacking the villages of Foua and Kfarya.

The Iranian-mediated cease-fire stipulated that rebel fighters be given safe passage out of Zabadani and Madaya. In return, the insurgents would allow 1,000 residents of the two villages to leave and allow medical and humanitarian aid to all areas.

Meanwhile Saturday, Syria’s state news agency reported a car bomb in the central city of Homs killed four civilians and wounded 19.