Peter Greste launches appeal against sentence

The three Al Jazeera journalists, including Australian-Latvian dual citizen Peter Greste, jailed in Egypt for multiple-year sentences, have formally filed their appeals against the June 23 Cairo court verdict, reported Al Jazeera Friday.

Al-Jazeera reported Friday the case would be heard before the Court of Cassation "which will examine the grounds for hearing a full appeal", but that the date has not yet been set.

It cited as grounds for appeal five key points, including "flaws in the arrest procedure" as well as "the fact that evidence presented in court did not marry with the charges".

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, commenting on news of the appeal, said he would have to wait now until the legal process plays out until making his own direct diplomatic approach to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

Speaking on radio 5AA in Adelaide on Friday, Abbott said he was not going to comment on the legal tactics of the Greste family’s lawyers.

“I just want to do whatever we reasonably can to get Peter Greste and his colleagues released as quickly as possible,” he said.

He said he understood that it was only after all legal processes had been exhausted that there was a possibility of presidential clemency.

“So I rather expected to be on the phone to the president of Egypt soon but, given this appeal, it might take a little longer.

“He is obviously going to say to me, ‘Well we have got to see where this appeal goes before I can get involved’.”

On his part, Peter’s brother Mike Greste thanked the organizers of a fundraiser held Thursday evening in Melbourne to support the legal case and family members’ rotating travel schedules to keep up his spirits with regular visits, as allowed.

A supreme court judge, Lex Lasry, who was the independent observer for the trial of Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, organised the concert at the Hi-Fi bar to raise funds for the Greste family.

“Lasry gave a speech at the concert and just said that when the verdict was handed down to Peter, it touched a nerve with him,” Greste said.

“He saw that an injustice had occurred and the need to try and help out in some way and so took the initiative to get an event happening.”

“It’s difficult to express the gratitude that we felt with all these noble people making an effort to come together and support us in such a way,” Mike Greste said.

“It was very humbling and heartening.”

Australian musicians Ella Hooper, Mark Seymour and Ross Wilson were among the performers. Attendees paid $30 to see them and many people donated extra throughout the night.

Mike Greste said the ordeal had left his parents, Lois and Juris, exhausted.

“That’s to say the least,” he said. “The last two months have been very draining on them, they’ve been having to do a lot of negotiations with various people.”

The money raised from the fundraiser would go towards the campaign to free his brother, he said, and help pay for air fares for the family to visit him in Egypt.

Greste said staff had tightened restrictions within the prison where his brother is detained.

“We’re now trying to get them relaxed again,” he said.

“The prisoners have had their exercise times cut back, which has been really important to them.

“So Peter’s just digging deep and well … He’s coping.”

Lasry told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC’s AM radio program in Melbourne on Friday morning that he hoped news of the fundraising concert had raised Peter’s spirits.

“The reality is, he was imprisoned for doing his job as a journalist and that flies in the face of most values that people in Australia think are important,” Lasry told the ABC.

“I hope it’s going to raise awareness or keep the awareness raised. People are aware of this case obviously.

“And we hope that he knows about this, and I know he does, and that his spirits will be raised by the fact that people of the calibre of our lead acts are performing to support him.”

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