Peter Greste has emphasised his belief in integrity, ethics and professionalism as key to journalism’s survival in a speech read on his behalf at an awards event recognising courage and independent spirit among journalists.
Greste and his colleagues Mohammed Fahmy, Baher Mohammed have now been imprisoned in Egypt for 292 days, after being falsely accused and then found guilty of aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
I'm still certain that if and when we're finally released, that global support, will be what ultimately saves us
In his address, read at the Frontline Club Awards ceremony by Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton, Greste paid homage to the journalists executed by the Islamic State in the Iraq and the Levant group and reflected on the dangers faced by thousands of journalists around the world.
“…journalists are no longer on the frontlines. We are the frontlines,” said Greste.
“Rarely have so many of us been imprisoned, beaten up, intimidated or murdered in the course of our duties.”
Greste said the best strategy for journalists – in light of the hostile environments they find themselves in – was to cling to the core ethical and professional standards of the industry.
“The sloppier we get; the more we degrade public support for our business, the more excuses we give to governments to limit and control what we do,” Greste wrote.
“I’ve been staggered by the incredible number of people who’ve supported our cause, not so much because they see an injustice, but because they see an attack on press freedom.”
The Australian award-winning reporter said that while he and his colleagues remained in prison, “I am still certain that if and when we are finally released, that global support, will be what ultimately saves us”.
Greste’s speech was put together by his family after speaking with him over a number of fortnightly prison visits.
Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison. Baher Mohamed received an additional three years for having a spent bullet in his possession, which he had picked up at a protest.
Eleven defendants tried in absentia, including one Dutch and two British journalists, were given 10-year sentences.
Al Jazeera continues to demand the immediate release of its journalists.