Peter Greste trial: Senior reporters deliver plea for freedom

Extended coverage: Al-Jazeera journalists’ trial 

Greste and his colleagues were jailed last week after being found guilty of reporting false news in the wake of the 2013 coup that ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.


Walkley Award-winning journalists Hugh Riminton and Sophie McNeill were among those who delivered the petition in Sydney today, defending their Australian colleague who they described as a “seasoned, sensible operator”.

Letter and signatures will be going via Canberra embassy – @hughriminton pic.twitter佛山桑拿网,/Tf36GHyCR6

— Walkley Foundation (@walkleys) June 30, 2014

The petition called on Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to rectify “this extraordinary attack on press freedom and human rights” and free Greste and his Al-Jazeera colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.

“The verdict of the court, despite the lack of evidence and bizarre court proceedings over more than a dozen hearings, is an appalling attack on press freedom and carries an implicit threat to all media working in Egypt,” it read.

“…There has not been a shred of evidence [presented].”

Read the petition in full at the bottom of this article.

In addition to Australians journalists and outlets; organisations from Pakistan, Canada, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sweden, New Zealand, Cambodia, Norway, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Venezuela were also signatories to the letter.

Riminton told media the meeting with the Vice Consul General had been encouraging, but said he could only express cautious optimism.

“On the record, he was happy to say that the Egyptian government and he personally understands the anger and anxiety that Australians are feeling about the verdict,” he said.

“… He feels sure that Peter Greste and the other journalists will get the just treatment they deserve.”

Vice Consul General told us he is taking note of all emails & messages sent to consulate re: Al Jaz 3 & passing it on to Cairo #FreeAJStaff

— Sophie McNeill (@Sophiemcneill) June 30, 2014

McNeill, who attended the consulate with Sky News journalist Tracy Spicer, was with Greste’s parents when they were told of the verdict.

She said they remained hopeful.

“Most of all, I think the thing that they clung to was that they know their son,” she said.

“They know that the charges against him were so farcical.”