'Shocked' journalists appeal prison terms

Take note – story published 9 years and 9 months ago

Jailed Australian-Latvian journalist Peter Greste and his colleague Baher Mohamed have launched appeals against their lengthy prison sentences in Egypt.

In a statement announcing the formal filing of the appeals through Egypt's judicial system, Greste shared with the world a vivid description of the physical shock he felt upon receiving his verdict, reports Australia's public broadcaster ABC Friday.

Greste, who was jailed for seven years with two other members of the Al Jazeera crew, remains in Cairo’s Tora prison after being found guilty by an Egyptian court for falsifying news and collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a statement released today entitled "Reflections on the verdict by Peter Greste and Baher Mohammed", they described the prosecution's case as hollow, thanked supporters for keeping the story in the public eye and said their ordeal was far from over.

"When Judge Mohammed Nagy handed down his guilty verdict in a packed court room on June 23rd, it felt as though we had been king-hit; thumped by a right hook that we saw coming out of the corner of our eye, but hardly believed would really land. And certainly not with the force that it did," Greste said.

"With such a hollow case, and with such vast international focus on the trial and its process, how could there be another outcome but a not guilty verdict?

"And yet, in the days leading up to the verdict, we would deliberately suppress that bubbling sense of optimism for a few moments to imagine how it might feel to hear the judge finally declare us guilty. We forced ourselves to contemplate the unthinkable."

"The nation's fledgling democracy wears a muzzle," conclude Greste and Mohamed, underscoring the sanctity of press freedom around the world and Egypt's current crackdown on various locally-reporting foreign media.

Earlier this week, the press corps in Brussels rallied virtually in the social media, sharing photos where they are shown hushing themselves in solidarity against the suppression of press freedom underscored by the jailing of Al Jazeera's Egypt-assigned field team.

Greste's brother Michael announced the decision to appeal the sentence at a press conference Friday morning.

"We have to have faith in the Egyptian system. We have to exhaust all legal channels prior to taking other strategies," he said.

"I'm not a lawyer, we're not familiar with the whole structure of the appeals process. The little I do understand of it is it's identifying flaws in the procedural process of the court and then going through some sessions in front of an appeals court.

"I think the Egyptian president made it fairly clear he wouldn't be stepping in or taking any action until the legal process had been exhausted so that includes the appeal and then any subsequent retrial."

Greste possesses dual Latvian and Australian citizenship and Latvian authorities have co-ordinated efforts to win his release with their Australian counterparts.

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