A journalist for Al Jazeera American has been sentenced to jail for using a derogatory term towards a US animal medical facility.
A judge in Florida on Thursday imposed the sentence after a jury found Al Jazeera reporter Ali Abou-Saleh guilty of violating a Florida law that bans insulting or disparaging an animal hospital.
“The defendant’s words were malicious and disrespectful to a hospital and its employees,” the judge said.
“It was intentional and calculated to disparage the hospital and the veterinary community.”
The Al Jazeera investigation into the abuse of dogs in US pet hospitals has drawn international attention.
The story has also been a topic of intense discussion in the US and abroad.
The judge imposed a sentence of at least two years in jail for Abou Saeed.
The judge did not specify a length of time.
The verdict comes after a trial last month in which prosecutors asked for a sentence under at least three years in prison for Aboud.
A lawyer for Abrougouns said the judge’s ruling was not a surprise and pointed to his earlier convictions for breaking into a police station and stealing a car.
“We look forward to a trial in this matter,” said lawyer Michael Narducci.
“A judge has ruled against the defendant’s plea and that sentence will be announced in due course.”
The judge’s order also applies to Abou Sabouh, who was arrested at his home in January after a judge ordered him held in lieu of $10,000 bail.
A court hearing is scheduled for later this month for Abousabou.
The American network has been embroiled in a number of controversies over the treatment of animals in the United States, including an investigation into a puppy farm that is said to be breeding for food in a New York park.
The report in January alleged that animals in US animal hospitals were routinely abused, starved and sometimes killed in appalling conditions.
A US senator has called for Abouboud’s immediate arrest, and a US congressman has called on the Justice Department to investigate.