Updated: 06/24/2014 09:43 | By Agence France-Presse

Shattered Australian parents of Greste in 'dark place'

The "shattered" elderly parents of jailed Australian Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste Tuesday said they were in a dark place, but vowed to battle on for the sake of press freedom.


Shattered Australian parents of Greste in 'dark place'

Juris Greste displays a picture of his son, jailed Australian Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, next to his wife Lois during a press conference in Brisbane, on June 24, 2014 - by Patrick Hamilton

Lois and Juris Greste, struggling to cope with news that their son has been jailed for seven years by a Cairo court for aiding the banned Muslim Brotherhood, said their fight had moved beyond their son's fate.

"This is a very dark time not only for our family, but for journalism generally," his father Juris Greste told a press conference.

"My vocabulary fails to convey just how shattered we are. Of course we were hoping for something entirely different."

But he said the overwhelming support of Australians and the international community for his son would keep the family going.

"The campaign for media freedom and free speech must never end," he said.

"There will always be people, governments, and institutions wanting to limit the speaking of one's mind and telling the way we see.

"Journalism is not a crime."

The emotional couple said they were still considering their legal options and whether to lodge an appeal, which could take months to make its way through the courts. 

"We've got to consider all options and, until we have all those on the table, we cannot make a decision," Lois Greste said, adding that her son was strong but she was worried about how he will cope.

"I can imagine he's as shocked as we are and probably finding it very difficult at this point, but he will get through that and be fine."

The Grestes have not been able to speak to their son since the verdict, but said they hoped his brothers Michael and Andrew, who were in Cairo, would be able to talk with him Tuesday.

Greste and his Al Jazeera colleague, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, were both sentenced to seven years in jail on Monday for aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood and "spreading false news".

Their producer Baher Mohamed received two sentences -- one for seven years and another for three years.

They were among 20 defendants in a trial that has triggered global outrage and fears of growing media restrictions in Egypt.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who spoke to the Grestes soon after the verdict, urged Egypt's new leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to issue a presidential pardon.

Bishop said she would summon Egypt's deputy envoy in Canberra on Tuesday -- the ambassador is currently in Cairo -- and call Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, as well as lodge a formal request for al-Sisi to intervene.

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