UK & World News

  • 24 June 2014, 8:52

Journalists' Sentences 'A Slap In The Face'

The parents of jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste have described his seven-year sentence in an Egyptian prison as "a slap in the face and a kick in the groin".

Lois and Juris Greste held an emotional press conference in Brisbane after their son was jailed along with two al Jazeera colleagues.

Juris Greste said the family was in a state of shock and struggling to think straight in the wake of the sentencing.

"We're not usually a family of superlatives, but I have to say ... my vocabulary fails to convey just how shattered we are," he said.

"You can never prepare yourself for something as painful as this."

Mr Greste, Canadian-Egyptian national Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were convicted of spreading false news and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mr Mohamed received an additional three years on a separate charge involving possession of weapons.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: "We're obviously shocked, dismayed, really bewildered by the decision of the court in Egypt."

The case has provoked outrage from freedom of speech activists, who say it was politicised, while David Cameron was said by Downing Street to be "completely appalled" by the verdict.

The White House called for pardons or sentence commutations for the journalists and for clemency in all politically motivated sentences.

Relatives of the men - who had denied all the allegations against them in Cairo - collapsed in tears as the sentences were read out.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she was "shocked and deeply dismayed" by the outcome and would ask the Egyptian government to intervene.

Her UK counterpart, William Hague, said he would also ask Cairo to review the case "as a matter of urgency".

Sky News and the BBC were among the media organisations to call for the trio's release prior to the verdict.

A number of journalists will hold a silent protest over the court's decision utside New Broadcasting House in London.

It will take place at 9.41am - the time of Monday's sentencing.