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Brother of jailed journalist Peter Greste: ‘It's extremely difficult to understand’

June 24th, 2014
09:52 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Andrew Greste, whose brother Peter was convicted and sentenced to prison along with two other al Jazeera journalists in Egypt on Monday, said he was “gutted” and “devastated.”

“Obviously it was a result that we thought, I guess, was possible. But you just can't prepare yourself really.”

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed had been imprisoned in Cairo since December on charges that included conspiring with the Brotherhood, spreading false news and endangering national security.

Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison; Mohamed was sentenced to ten.

Their case has drawn worldwide condemnation from governments and journalists alike, who insist the three were simply doing their jobs, reporting the news.

“I definitely wasn't expecting such a harsh punishment,” Andrew Greste said. “You know, seven years – it's extremely difficult to understand.”

There had been some hope the former military chief in Egypt, and the country’s new president, Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, would release the journalists as a gesture of good will and his pledge for democracy.

“It all happened very quickly. The judgment was given over; it probably only took about five minutes.”

“And then very quickly after that, the three of them were removed from the cage and removed from the courtroom. So it was only a very short – you know, we made eye contact very briefly and sort of gave a fist pump and tried to signal to Peter that we'd fight, continue to fight on.”

On Tuesday, el-Sisi insisted that the Egyptian judiciary was independent and he would not step in for the journalists.

“I will not interfere in the verdicts of the justice system because the Egyptian judiciary is independent and proud,” el-Sisi said in a statement.

“I think we need a little bit of time to think about it and digest it and try and determine what the best course of action is from here on in,” Andrew Greste said.

“But obviously we're going to keep fighting it because we believe Peter's completely innocent and he's done nothing wrong and it's demonstrated by the amount of worldwide support that he's getting and the interest that has been shown in the trial and the outcome of the trial.”

Peter, he said, has been “remarkably resilient to this point.”

In April, Lois Greste – Peter’s mother – told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, “[Peter] said they have their down days and their good days, like we do.”

In anticipation of meeting with Peter on Tuesday, Andrew said he did not know how he would find him.

“I guess we're just going to have to try and help pick him up and, you know, give him some kind of hope.”

UPDATE: Mike and Andrew Greste gave the following statement to CNN's Amanpour on Tuesday: “We saw Peter a few hours ago. He is still pretty upset and shaken by the decision but he impressed upon us that they are still feeling strong and determined as ever to clear their name. Given the overwhelming support, the Greste family has established an email account to receive letters of support, the address is: These letters have helped Peter and his colleagues stay strong and motivated.”

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Ahmed

    This is why they are in Jail ,see for yourself. Unless This is Legal in your Country you will understand right away that fabricating News to mislead people and international community is a crime



    June 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • Omar Bahi

      The first video was re-enactment by activist to show the world how many were killed, I know it's useless for you to understand that thousands were killed and 41 thousands are in prison. wish you happy life in hell

      June 25, 2014 at 1:01 am | Reply
  2. ashok

    Egypt's judicial system, of which its new President is so proud, has sometimes sentenced several hundred people to death in a single trial, almost as sketchy as this one. If this shocks the conscience of the West, the Gandhian way to protest would be for tourists to stop visiting Egypt.

    June 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  3. Omar Bahi

    What's shocking is the complete silent of the Australian government, can any one explain it?

    June 25, 2014 at 1:04 am | Reply
    • kate

      The Australian Government isn't silent, see Julie Bishop's efforts. Can you explain your comment? Perhaps you are watching too much ABC??

      June 25, 2014 at 6:30 am | Reply
  4. Emmanuel

    Its terrible for anybody to be punished just because their job did not impress the powers that be. Totally Unacceptable.

    June 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  5. jamesbergen

    Same there as in America. They spoke out and got arested, framed, convicted, and punished, there. What is hard to understand about that. Happens in America evry time you speak to a cop and they don't like.

    June 25, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  6. abdallah sayed

    They violated Egyptian law they are working without a permit and defending them
      You are not a fair

    June 28, 2014 at 4:32 am | Reply
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