News Column

Al Jazeera Journalist: 'Don't Abandon Me'

June 24, 2014

Patrick Kingsley, theguardian.com

Peter Greste has called on the international community not to abandon him and two other journalists jailed in Egypt, shortly before they were transferred to a new jail.

Following a prison visit on Tuesday morning, Greste's brother Mike told the Guardian: "[Peter] wants to emphasise how important it is to them not just for emotional reasons, but for their safety that their story is kept alive."

Greste spoke as the trio were moved to a prison known as the Farm, a comparatively comfortable prison where many of those connected to the Hosni Mubarak regime served time, including Mubarak's two sons.

In previous months, Greste's two colleagues Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were held in solitary confinement, before all three were moved to the same cell in a block containing leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Greste was emotional but ultimately resilient during a meeting before his transfer with his two younger brothers, Mike and Andrew.

"It was a pretty distressing visit," Mike told the Guardian. "We were all a bit emotional and upset but he took pains to assure us that he is very strong and resilient about the whole matter. We're still in the process of picking ourselves up and continuing to fight on."

Mike Greste also announced that his brother's wellwishers could show solidarity with the former BBC correspondent by emailing freepetergreste@gmail.com with messages of support, emails that his brothers could then print and bring to him.

Fahmy's brother Adel reported that his sibling had responded in a similar way. "He's still smiling. He said yesterday was very hard on them, but he's still positive that something will happen," said Adel Fahmy. "They were all shocked yesterday, but today they're in a better frame of mind. They're happy also that this whole thing is not over yet and that there is outrage everywhere."

According to Adel, Mohamed Fahmy will not appeal his verdict, but said his brother had asked him not to reveal why. The Grestes have indicated that Peter is likely to make an appeal, but have not made a final decision.

Egypt's president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, said on Tuesday that he would not pardon the journalists, despite international outrage at their conviction. A presidential source later told the Guardian that Sisi was legally unable to do so before the end of the appeals process.

Inside Egypt, reaction to the convictions has been mixed. Many support the targeting of al-Jazeera, whose coverage is seen as skewed towards the supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, and whose journalists are portrayed as terrorists.

"None of them is a journalist; [none of them is] a journalist who is a member of the Egyptian journalists' syndicate; or a journalist who is working in Egyptian journalism," said Ibrahim Eissa, a prominent Egyptian editor and talkshow host.

Rights groups have condemned the verdict as an attack on free speech, while observers of the trial said the process was severely flawed.

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Original headline: Peter Greste: don't abandon me and other jailed al-Jazeera journalists

Link: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/24/peter-greste-jailed-al-jazeera-journalists-egypt-international-community


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Source: Patrick Kingsley, theguardian.com,(c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.


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