jazeera_3423118eAl-Jazeera English producer Baher Mohamed, left, Canadian-Egyptian acting Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, centre, and correspondent Peter Greste at a court hearing in 2014 Picture: AP Photo/Heba Elkholy, By Agencies. Amal Clooney was in court to defend Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and was to meet officials to press for his pardon An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced three Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years in prison, the last twist in a long-running trial criticised worldwide by press freedom advocates and human rights activists. Amal Clooney was in court to defend Mohammed Fahmy, a Canadian national, and was later due to meet government officials to ask for his pardon and deportation. Fahmy, who was released on bail at the start of the retrial in February along with Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed, said on Friday night that it was a “politicised trial” from day one. “If justice is to be served we should be acquitted as impartial journalists,” he added, The case against Fahmy, Mohammed and Australian journalist Peter Greste embroiled their journalism into the wider conflict between Egypt and Qatar following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Mohammed Fahmy was defended by Amal Clooney  Hassan Ammar/AP ADVERTISEMENT It wasn’t immediately clear how the sentence would affect the three men. Greste, deported in February, spoke to Al-Jazeera from Sydney and criticised the verdict. Mostefa Souag, Al-Jazeera English acting director-general, also criticised the verdict, saying it “‘defies logic and common sense.” “The whole case has been heavily politicised 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 organisations and at no point during the long drawn out retrial did any of the unfounded allegations stand up to scrutiny.” 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. Authorities arrested Fahmy, Greste and Mohammed, later charging them with allegedly being part of Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which authorities have declared a terrorist organisation, and airing falsified footage intended to damage national security. Since Mr 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. However, Doha has been a strong supporter of the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in the greater Mideast. At trial, prosecutors used news clips about an animal hospital with donkeys and horses, and another about Christian life in Egypt, as evidence they 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. The verdict brought a landslide of international condemnation and calls for newly elected President Abdelfattah el-Sisi, who as military chief led the overthrow of Mr Morsi, to intervene. Egypt’s Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appeals court, later ordered their retrial, saying the initial proceedings were marred by violations of the defendants’ rights. 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 was 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.