Parents meet with jailed Australian-Latvian journalist

Peter Greste’s parents visited the Al-Jazeera reporter in jail on Wednesday for the first time since he was arrested by Egyptian authorities, Latvian news agency LETA reported  via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“It was a horrendous experience,” Juris Greste told the ABC of the 45-minute meeting with his son Wednesday. “If we'd had a small bucket between us as we were sharing hugs, it might have even overflowed… with tears and sobs,” he said.

Lois Greste said her son was “very somber” and that he was living in a different prison with nine others in a “dormitory-like situation.”

“I think it was probably one of the most difficult days of my life,” she said. “We gave him a hug when we saw him, and also when we left.”

Greste discussed his legal options with his parents, but his father acknowledged the “cold, hard, real possibility” Peter may have to serve his full sentence.

“A member of my family spent seven years in a Soviet gulag, and returned, and when we met them in Rīga, they almost took my breath away how sane and how still full of life they were,” Juris Greste said.

Greste and two Egyptian colleagues (one of whom is a Canadian citizen) were sentenced to extended prison terms by a Cairo court on June 23, accused of falsifying news and promoting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Australia, Latvia and the United States are leading calls for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to pardon the journalists, but the new Egyptian head-of-state claims unwillingness to violate the separation of powers by interfering with the system of justice.

 

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