Middle East

Greste 'devastated and outraged' by Egypt court verdict

Peter Greste in court in Cairo, 23 June
Image caption Peter Greste in court in Cairo on Monday

Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste has said in his first statement since being jailed with two colleagues in Egypt that he is "devastated and outraged".

In a statement issued by his brothers, he said the trial had been an "attempt to use the court to intimidate and silence critical voices in the media".

Prosecutors, he said, had failed to produce any concrete evidence that the three had spread false news.

The seven-year jail terms handed to the three sparked outrage.


Al-Jazeera trial

  • Defendants included al-Jazeera's Cairo bureau chief, Mohamed Fahmy, who is Canadian-Egyptian, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed and Australian correspondent Peter Greste
  • They denied charges of spreading false news and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood
  • The three men were seized in a raid at a Cairo hotel on 29 December and have been held at Cairo's Tora prison
  • The court tried a total of 20 people, including nine al-Jazeera employees

Who are the al-Jazeera journalists on trial in Egypt?


Hundreds of journalists gathered in London and other cities on Tuesday to protest.

The White House said that jailing journalists because their reporting did not fit the government "narrative" was "a blow to democratic progress in Egypt".

Australia has said it will work to secure the release of Greste, an Australian national and former BBC correspondent.

The three were convicted of spreading false news and supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood organisation.

'To intimidate and silence'

On Thursday, a statement dated 24 June appeared on a Facebook page called Free Peter Greste.

Image caption Hundreds of journalists held a one-minute silent protest outside the BBC's headquarters in London

Greste's statement was transcribed from memory by his brothers Mike and Andrew, who visited him after the verdict.

"Throughout this trial, the prosecutor has consistently failed to present a single piece of concrete evidence to support the outrageous allegations against us," the statement said.

"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."

Pledging to do all in his power to overturn the conviction, he said: "The verdict confirms that our trial was never simply about the charges against us.

"It has been an attempt to use the court to intimidate and silence critical voices in the media."

He and his colleagues would only be freed, he said, with "noisy, sustained pressure from individuals, human rights groups, governments and anyone who understand the fundamental importance of a free press to Egypt's fledgling democracy".

He thanked those who had supported them through the trial, saying, "It has kept us strong and continues to do so."


Greste's statement in full

I am devastated and outraged by Tuesday's [as given - verdict was on Monday] verdict. 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.

That is why I intend to do everything I can and consider all possible measures to overturn the conviction. The verdict confirms that our trial was never simply about the charges against us. It has been an attempt to use the court to intimidate and silence critical voices in the media. That is why I know that our freedom, and more importantly the freedom of Egypt's press will never come without noisy, sustained pressure from individuals , human rights groups, governments and anyone who understand the fundamental importance of a free press to Egypt's fledgling democracy.

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.


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