The court responsible for sentencing the three Al-Jazeera journalists released a statement justifying the verdict, saying that the "devil guided" the journalists. Meanwhile, the network's bureau in Gaza has come under attack.
The Egyptian court that jailed three Al-Jazeera journalists for alleged ties with Islamists said on Tuesday that "the devil guided" the group to spread false news defaming the country.
The bizarre comments came as part of a court statement explaining the verdict, following weeks of international outcry.
Australian journalist Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were convicted in June of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news that portrayed Egypt as being in a state of "civil war."
Greste and Fahmy received seven-year terms, while Mohamed was jailed for 10 years, in a case that sparked international outrage. Eleven defendants tried in absentia, including one Dutch and two British journalists, were given 10-year sentences.
"The defendants took advantage of the noble profession of journalism... and turned it from a profession aimed at looking for the truth to a profession aimed at falsifying the truth," the court said in a statement explaining its verdict.
"The devil guided them to use journalism and direct it toward activities against this nation,"
The mind-boggling news comes just hours after the network's Gaza bureau was attacked by Israeli gunfire, following threats by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The bureau in Gaza came under fire, and Al-Jazeera correspondents have collected large bullets from around the building, with other nearby buildings left untouched. No one has been injured.
Lieberman said earlier that Al-Jazeera had "abandoned even the semblance of a credible media outlet, and it broadcasts - both within Gaza and outside it, to the world - anti-semitic incitement, lies, provocation and encouragement to terrorists."
Al-Jazeera spokesperson Osama Saeed said, “The foreign minister’s comments were a direct threat against us and appear to have been taken as a green light for the targeting of our journalists in Gaza. We hold the Israeli authorities fully responsible. They have put the lives of journalists in danger."