The parents of Australian journalist Peter Greste, one of the three Al Jazeera journalists jailed by an Egyptian court, have called the verdict an attack on free speech everywhere that has left them “shattered”.
“This man, our son, Peter, is an award winning journalist. He is not a criminal. He is not a criminal,” his father, Juris Greste, told a news conference in Brisbane on Tuesday.
“To us, it is not just affecting the Greste family. We put it to you that it is also a slap in the face and a kick in the groin to Australia as well as all fair minded people around the world,” he added.
Greste was sentenced for seven years along with Canadian-Egyptian national Mohamed Fahmy, Cairo bureau chief of Al Jazeera English. Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for possession of ammunition. Mohamed was in possession of a spent bullet casing he had found on the ground during a protest.
Cairo defended the journalists’ convictions – for aiding a “terrorist organisation” – and rejected the widespread condemnation as “interference in its internal affairs”.
The Greste family said that they had not yet decided what their next step would be in attempting to free their son and his colleagues.