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02 September 2015

Statement by the National Press Club of Australia on the sentencing of Al-Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed

On Wednesday 2 September 2015, President of the National Press Club of Australia, Laurie Wilson stated "I'm Laurie Wilson, I'm President of the National Press Club of Australia, and before we hear from our guest today there's just a few words I'd like to say about one of our members, in fact an honorary life member of this club and our official ambassador for press freedom, Peter Greste, and his two colleagues, his two Al-Jazeera colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.

"As we all know, their convictions were upheld at the weekend by the Egyptian courts. I know Peter that you're watching today, you're certainly planning to watch and I think we all know that while you were sentenced in absentia, your two colleagues are now imprisoned once again in Cairo for no greater a crime, if we can even call it that, for no greater a crime than simply doing your jobs as journalists. Speaking on behalf of the 2000 members of the National Press Club of Australia, and with the support of the International Association and the Asia Pacific Association of Press Clubs, we condemn the judgment of the Egyptian court in the strongest terms possible. And we send this simple straightforward message to the Egyptian Government. Free AJ staff, free the Al-Jazeera journalists. To President el-Sisi we implore you, take the only appropriate action. Restore the respect for your country by doing this, by taking as I said, the appropriate action and ensuring that all three of our colleagues are pardoned.

"I think I can say with absolute confidence that I don't just speak for our many members here today, but I think I speak for all Australians who believe in human rights, who support democracy, and who believe in the fundamental right of freedom of the press and all news media. We say again, free Al-Jazeera's journalists, use your presidential authority, President al-Sisi, to pardon Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed."