Ambassador: Greste being held in “tolerable” conditions

Diplomats hope Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s remarks about “negative consequences” on international relations from the case of Peter Greste may mark a turning point toward the jailed Australian-Latvian journalist’s eventual release. "I wished they were deported immediately after their arrest instead of being put on trial," said Sisi in comments published by the Al-Masry Al-Youm daily online news Sunday.

Greste has been moved to new quarters and is currently in “a satisfactory situation”, said Latvia’s Ambassador to Egypt Iveta Šulca Monday. “He can spend more time in the fresh air and access information resources. Conditions have been improved. This is also partly thanks to consular efforts,” the diplomat explained.

She said she is in regular contact with Peter’s brother and parents, but that all legal assistance to the journalist is being provided by the Australian consulate. Counsel is now being sought to pursue an appeal within 60 days of the June 23 verdict.

Šulca said the President’s first official reaction “gives hope.” “He has publically stated the opinion that deportation would have been the best solution,” the emisarry added.

On his part, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said he doesn’t doubt Greste would be freed, but added that it wouldn’t happen quickly and not like in films with a happy ending.

“There will be an appeal, if that isn’t in his favor, the President can pardon and we’re working on that right now,” explained the minister. There isn’t a colleague that doesn’t inquire about Greste’s release in meetings with Latvia’s chief diplomat. Rinkēvičs added that diplomacy requires patience and time. “It won’t be like in the films,” he said.

Family members also called the Egyptian head-of-state’s remarks “heartening.”

"I'm sure images of Peter in the cage in the court are not images Egypt really want distributed around the world," his brother Andrew told reporters in Brisbane. "And the publicity they're getting out of this I'm sure is not the publicity any country would want."

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