In his first public comments since the verdict, jailed Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste said Thursday he was “devastated and outraged” over the seven-year sentence handed down by an Egyptian court earlier this week, after he and two other journalists were convicted of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and producing fake stories to inflame tensions in Egypt.
“I am devastated and outraged by Monday's verdict. Throughout this trial, the prosecutor has consistently failed to present a single piece of concrete evidence to support the outrageous allegations against us,” Greste said, in a statement posted Thursday by Al-Jazeera. The evidence included news reports that were made when the journalists were not present in Egypt, a video by Australian singer Gotye and recordings that had nothing to do with Egypt.
The sentencing of Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed drew worldwide condemnation, with the White House calling the seven-year sentences for Greste and Fahmy, and the 10-year term for Mohamed, “a blow to democratic progress in Egypt.”
Greste said he is working on overturning his conviction after his lawyer found “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,” said Greste, a native of Australia. “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.”
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Greste said he and the other jailed journalists “are all grateful for the 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,” he said.