This week, an Egyptian court sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists to a total of 24 years in prison on charges of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and making false reports. The widely condemned trial featured almost no evidence from prosecutors — though judicial legitimacy is clearly not the goal of a military-backed regime that is intent on crushing dissent.
Embarrassingly, the sentencing came a day after Secretary of State John Kerry visited Egypt to meet with the country’s newly elected president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and announce the resumption of U.S. military aid. Mr. Kerry commended Mr. el-Sissi’s commitment to a “re-evaluation of human rights legislation” and “re-evaluation of the judicial process.”
Mr. el-Sissi represents a military-backed, authoritarian government that seems more repressive than those his predecessors, Mohammed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak, presided over.
Mr. el-Sissi refused to pardon the railroaded journalists, blandly asserting that he “will not interfere in court verdicts.” The United States should not lend its credibility to a government that stifles a free press and free speech.
Security forces have killed more than 1,000 demonstrating Egyptians since last year. Egyptian courts sentenced hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members and leaders to death in sham trials in March. America’s professed devotion to democracy seems hollow when its leading diplomat can share smiles with a man such as Mr. el-Sissi.