Journalists call for Egypt boycott over Greste verdict

Latvia’s Association of Journalists called for a boycott of Egypt in an official statement Wednesday, condemning a Cairo court verdict sentencing Latvian „Al Jazeera” journalist Peter Greste - who has dual Latvian-Australian citizenship - to seven years in prison.

The Journalists’ Association urged Latvia’s Foreign Ministry and other high-ranking officials to use their influence to help free the jailed reporters.

The Foreign Ministry released a statement expressing its “true disappointment” and “incomprehension” following the Egyptian court’s ruling on Monday which has attracted widespread condemnation.

Greste was convicted along with two colleagues on charges of aiding a terrorist organisation for reporting on the activities of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Until Egypt grants Greste a fair trial, the Association is asking Latvians to refrain from traveling to its resorts and tourist attractions.

“The arrest and trial of Peter Greste and his colleagues in Egypt is a shocking event that must not remain unopposed. This marks an ominous trend where judicial power is brought to bear against professional journalists working in various internal or external conflict zones. This is a blatant obstruction of access to information,” the statement said.

Greste, born in Australia, registered for dual citizenship in Latvia based on entitlement rights through his father after the nation regained its freedom from the collapsing Soviet Union in 1991.  

While Greste never formally collected his Latvian passport, he does possess Latvian citizenship and Latvian diplomats have repeatedly spoken out for his release while collaborating with their Australian counterparts. 

Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics signalled the fight for Greste's freedom would continue on Tuesday, saying on Twitter: “The Greste case will demand a great deal of patience and diplomatic effort.”

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