Egypt President Sisi urged to free al-Jazeera reporter

  • Published
Media caption,
Andrew Greste: "The president has acknowledged that if he was in power he would have deported the guys"

The two brothers of jailed al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste have said that they will push for the Egyptian president to release him by decree.

They will be urging the president to use a decree he issued last year that allows him to deport foreigners in prison or on trial.

The brothers were disappointed that Mr Greste and two co-defendants were not freed at a court hearing on Thursday.

The trio were appealing against their convictions for spreading false news.

Instead, the court ordered a retrial, but said the three must remain in custody pending the start of that new trial within a month.

Mr Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have spent a year in jail after being arrested in December 2013 and later sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison on charges of collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood after the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi by the military in 2013.

The three insist that they are innocent and that they were simply reporting the news.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
The fiancee of Mohamed Fahmy says she is concerned for his health and will continue to campaign for his release
Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Mr Greste's family say that while the High Court ruling was a disappointment, there are still grounds for optimism that he may be released soon

'Next best result'

Mr Greste's brother Andrew said that the court ruling meant that the journalist was an innocent man in prison and that it was time for President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to "step in and honour what he has said in the past".

The president has said previously that he wished the journalists had been deported rather than being put on trial.

"The best option to get Peter home is for the president to issue a decree and get [our brother] repatriated," Andrew Greste said.

Media caption,
As Jon Donnison reports, Peter Greste's brothers are calling for him to be deported

He pointed out that the coming days - until the start of the retrial - provided the president with an important window of opportunity to do this.

The Greste family says that while Thursday's ruling had come as a disappointing surprise, it was still a "step in the right direction" and the "next best result".

The ruling came as prosecutors acknowledged major problems with the verdict against the trio.

Al-Jazeera has called on the authorities to release its journalists quickly.

Two of them are foreign nationals - Mr Greste, a former BBC correspondent, is Australian, and his producer colleague Mr Fahmy holds Egyptian and Canadian citizenship.

The three journalists were convicted in June - with Mr Fahmy and Mr Greste jailed for seven years and Mr Mohamed for 10 years.

Media caption,
Defence lawyer explains a retrial will require the journalists to remain in Egypt

An al-Jazeera spokesman called on the Egyptian authorities to free the men quickly or risk harming Egypt's image in the eyes of the world.

Mr Fahmy's brother Adel said he had "hoped for more" - that his brother would be freed, at least on bail.

But Mr Greste's lawyer Chris Flynn described the ruling as being "a positive result" if not the "complete vindication that we were hoping for".

"It does, however, recognise... that the original trial processes contain some flaws... and we think overall provides an opportunity for the president to consider perhaps some other measures such as deportation without any further judicial action in Egypt," he said.

Image source, AL-JAZEERA
Image caption,
Al-Jazeera has urged people to show support for the three men, stressing: "Journalism is not a crime"
Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The three journalists were arrested in January 2014 and sentenced the following June

Key dates

  • 29 December 2013: Peter Greste, Bader Mohamed and Mohammed Fadel Fahmy arrested
  • February 2014: Put on trial in Cairo on terrorism-related offences
  • 23 June: Convicted and jailed for seven to 10 years
  • 23 December: Al-Jazeera suspends its Egyptian channel
  • 1 January 2015: Retrial ordered after "major problems" found in verdict