Peter Greste's mum: He's very, very strong
Parents of Australian Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste say there are "no words" to describe their reaction to the seven-year sentence handed to Mr Greste by an Egyptian court. Nine News.PT2M52S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3aq01 620 349 June 24, 2014
Dutch journalist Rena Netjes says she will not rest until Peter Greste is released from prison in Egypt.
For her, the battle is intensely personal. It could so easily have been her sitting in the defendants' cage in a Cairo court room on Monday, hearing the devastating news that she had been sentenced to years behind bars on what she has branded ridiculous, trumped-up charges.
Seven-year sentence: Australian journalist Peter Greste. Photo: AP
Netjes also was sentenced on Monday, to 10 years in prison. But Netjes, the Cairo correspondent for Holland's Parool newspaper and BNR radio, learned of her sentence from the safety of her home in Holland.
When Netjes discovered in Cairo in December last year that she was on a terrorism watch list in Egypt, she went into hiding in Cairo, and managed to escape from the country with the help of the Dutch embassy. She was sentenced on Monday in absentia.
Others weren't so fortunate. Australian journalist Greste and his two colleagues at al-Jazeera English, the ex-CNN journalist Mohamed Fahmy and local producer Baher Mohamed, were jailed for seven, seven and 10 years respectively on charges of aiding terrorists and endangering national security.
'10 years for a cup of coffee': Dutch journalist Rena Netjes Photo: AFP
"The Egyptians are merciless, it's unbelievable what they are doing," Netjes told ABC radio on Tuesday morning of the sentence handed to Greste, and to herself.
"Of course, many people hoped there would be in the end a deal that they could leave the country, or maybe bail, but I was prepared for the worst scenario, and the Egyptians seem to don't care at all for what the rest of the world is thinking, and it showed today.
"The world should get Peter out, and I also told the brothers of Peter ... that some people tell me 'Relax a little bit, maybe go somewhere and hide'. But I will not relax before Peter is out of that prison. I will use all of my powers. I have meetings in the European parliaments ... to make noise as much as possible."
10 years for a cup of coffee in The Mariott. Too bizar for a filmscript. #Egypt— Rena Netjes (@RenaNetjes) June 23, 2014
Netjes told her story as an example of just how wrong the Egyptian authorities could get it.
They had accused Netjes of working for al-Jazeera English, but that is a blatant lie, she says.
Netjes says she had a coffee with Fahmy, al-Jazeera's Cairo bureau chief, at the Marriott Hotel in Cairo late last year, because he was an expert on Sinai, a topic that interested her. She did not know he worked for al-Jazeera at the time, and had only become familiar with his work on Twitter.
But the hotel took a copy of her passport before she was allowed to visit his office at the hotel.
"Because I visited him and they took a copy of my passport, I happened to find myself on the terrorist list, and the main accusation is I work for al-Jazeera and I finance al-Jazeera at the same time, which is also ridiculous. You don't work and finance a company at the same time," she told the ABC.
"And what is also very, very strange, they say they found a camera with me and that I changed footage and everything. I don't even have a camera. I work for radio and a newspaper in the Netherlands and in Belgium. It's all ridiculous."
She said the investigators did such a shoddy job they copied her name and passport number down incorrectly, and her charge sheet reflected that wrong information. But now she could not risk travelling to other countries, because of the sentence handed to her on Monday.
"What it means for me is that I have to probably forget about travelling to Africa ... and the Arabic countries," she said.
Human rights groups have described Monday as a black day in Egypt's unrelenting assault on the freedom of expression.
Four other students and activists indicted in the case were sentenced on Monday to seven years, while the judge also handed 10-year sentences to the British journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane, who were not in Egypt but were tried in absentia.
Amnesty International said the prosecution had produced no evidence to back its claims or to support a conviction, and that Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Fahmy and Mohamed were “pawns” in the bitter geopolitical dispute between Egypt and Qatar, the oil-rich Gulf country that finances al-Jazeera.