Latvia condemns Egypt jail sentence for journalists

AFP , Monday 23 Jun 2014

Latvia joins Australia , the Netherlands and the UK in condemning the sentence against Al Jazeera journalists

Latvia added its voice to a chorus of condemnation on Monday for a seven-year prison term a Cairo court handed to journalist Peter Greste and two of his Al Jazeera colleagues.

"The Foreign Ministry believes that the judicial process has not taken into account all the circumstances relating to Peter Greste's detention, such as the lack of direct evidence," the ministry said in a press release, adding it "profoundly regretted" the ruling against Greste, a dual citizen of Australia and Latvia.

EU and NATO member Latvia also said it would work with Brussels and Australia for the release of the journalists and hoped new Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi would take a personal interest in the case "to promote freedom of expression."

Australian-born Greste, whose father is from Latvia, registered as a Latvian in the 1990s as the Baltic nation broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991.

As a result, despite never formally collecting his passport, he possesses Latvian as well as Australian citizenship and Latvian diplomats, including Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, have campaigned for Greste's release.

On Monday, a Cairo court sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists, among 20 people on trial, to jail terms ranging from seven to 10 years after accusing them of aiding the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The ambassadors of Latvia, Australia, Canada, the UK and the Netherlands attended the trial.

Edited by Ahram Online

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