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Al Jazeera journalist to appeal Egypt conviction: ‘This isn’t just about those wrongly convicted in our case. This is about press freedom’

By Press Gazette

Jailed former BBC journalist Peter Greste is to appeal against his conviction on terrorism-related charges in Egypt, his brother has said.

Al Jazeera reporter Greste (pictured, Reuters), Egyptian-Canadian acting bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed, were arrested in December as part of a crackdown on Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Their sentencing last month on charges stemming from an interview with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood sparked international outrage.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "completely appalled" by the guilty verdicts, and the then foreign minister William Hague summoned the Egyptian Ambassador in London for a meeting to discuss concern over "procedural shortcomings seen during the trial''.

Following Greste's sentencing to seven years in prison, hundreds of media representatives gathered in silent protest outside BBC headquarters in London.

Greste's brother Mike has now told reporters in the family's hometown of Brisbane that they "have to have faith in the Egyptian system".

"We have to exhaust all legal channels prior to … taking other strategies," he added, referring to options including appealing to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for clemency.

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In a statement released by his family Peter Greste said: "We will appeal. We still remain strong and confident, determined to fight for our cause.

"At least part of our strength comes from the understanding that this isn't just about those wrongly convicted in our case. This is about press freedom, about freedom of speech not just in Egypt but globally."

Greste told of his feelings after hearing the guilty verdict, saying it felt like being "punch-drunk".

"We heard nothing in the seconds that followed. Others have spoken of the uproar that erupted in the packed court, but all we heard was a stunned silence," he said.

"Then came the numbness – a bizarre sense of unreality, as if we were watching it unfold on TV to a bunch of other poor souls. Our ears had heard the words; our brains had interpreted them, but our hearts refused to feel them.

"It was only once we were back in the confines of our tiny cell that the slow motion shock set in. It was like being punch-drunk, how you might feel after a round with Mike Tyson. There was a nausea, the gasping for air, the shaky knees, the oppressive weight of the concrete and iron cell."

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