The Brisbane family of jailed journalist Peter Greste have vowed to fight their son’s conviction, and you can too.
Brisbane raised journalist Peter Greste’s name has been on the world’s lips this week, but for the most heinous and unjust of reasons.
Greste and his Egyptian colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were arrested in Cairo in December 2013 and accused of spreading false news and supporting the now banned Islamist group the Muslim brotherhood. The three employees of Al Jazeera English have spent the last six months in prison, sharing a 4m jail cell that is locked down for 23 hours a day, with only small flicker of light coming through tiny window. On Monday Greste, along with Mohamed Fahmy, were sentenced to seven years in jail. Baher Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years and three other journalists who were tried in absentia were handed 10-year sentences.
The sentence was a sickening blow for Greste and his Brisbane based parents Juris and Lois Greste, who addressed media in Brisbane following the verdict and declared their son’s sentence “a slap in the face and a kick in the groin to Australia”. Greste himself has now spoken out about his unjust sentence, but in yet another blow to the well-respected journalist has not been permitted to speak out using his own words or voice.
Instead, Greste’s brothers Mike and Andrew were forced to memorize his thoughts, as no writing supplies are permitted in the prison, and smuggle his message from his cell to the outside world.The brothers then posted this paraphrased message to the Free Peter Greste Facebook page.
“I am devastated and outraged by Tuesdays verdict,” reads Greste’s statement.” Throughout this trial, the prosecutor has consistently failed to present a single piece of concrete evidence to support the outrageous allegations against us.At the same time our lawyers have highlighted countless procedural errors, irregularities and abuses of due process that should have had the entire case thrown out of court many times over.
“We are all grateful for the extraordinary and unprecedented public support that countless people have offered us throughout this ordeal. It has kept us strong and continues to do so. We must all remain committed to fight this gross injustice for as long as necessary.”
There is so much wrong with this unjust farce of a trial and the conviction that has followed. It’s wrong that a journalist has been put through through hell simply for doing his job, for providing the world with much needed information and shining a light on issues that need to be addressed. It’s wrong that he was given an unfair trial and caught up in a politically motivated situation. It’s wrong that his family are suffering along with him, helpless to change a situation so far out of their control. It’s wrong that a world wide outcry has seemingly fallen on deaf years.
But,somehow, amidst all that is wrong with the conviction of Peter Greste there are also facets of this situation that are just so right.
As Greste says in his statement there has been an outpouring of support for his plight. Countless images of people with their mouths taped shut, accompanied by the trending hashtags #journalismisnotacrime and #freeAJStaff have dominated social media. For once, politicians and their constituents seem to be on the same page with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop both speaking out on Greste’s behalf, echoing the public’s sentiments that this wrongdoing cannot be allowed to stand.
In the world of social media, a realm that’s usually reserved for political snark, selfies and the tearing down of our fellow human beings, it’s heartening to see the outpouring of support, kindness and humanity that we’ve seen this week for Peter Greste.
The most important aspect of this, however, is the need to keep the support going. To continue the outrage, continue the pleas and continue to keep Greste at the forefront of our news cycle and minds.
To continue to show your support for Greste, you can click here and join Amnesty International in calling on the Egyptian authorities to release Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues immediately and unconditionally.