Journalist held in Cairo jail

A BURREN Junction man whose brother is being detained without charge in an Egyptian prison has spoken out about his sibling’s harrowing plight.

Acclaimed Australian journalist Peter Greste was one of two Al-Jazeera reporters to be arrested along with a producer and cameraman by Egyptian authorities in Cairo on December 29, amid a widening crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Mohamed Murs.

Younger brother Andrew, a grain and cotton farmer, said there was still a slim possibility the 48-year-old could be released during a hearing held last night, but the family had been warned officials would most likely extend his detention by a further 15 days.

Providing them some solace during their time of angst, however, is the fact that Peter, who is being held at Cairo’s notorious Tora Prison, is fairing well.

“From his reports and reports we are getting, his current conditions in Tora Prison aren’t really as bad as what was first feared,” Mr Greste said.

“Our reports are that he hasn’t been physically abused or bashed and also legal and consular representatives have been present at all the questioning. He has been given adequate food and water and from what we understand he’s actually got his own washbasin and own cell and is being quite well-supported and looked after by some of the other inmates.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been in touch with the family and confirmed to media on December 31 that the government was “doing all we can” to help facilitate the Al-Jazeera English East Africa correspondent’s speedy release. 

But Mr Greste said it was crucial that the matter remained “top of the priority list” in terms of foreign affairs.

“We are fully aware of other cases and I guess we are not naive to the seriousness of the situation,” Mr Greste said.

“I just hope it doesn’t go on and I guess we’re really pining our hopes on a diplomatic resolution. 

“We don’t want to find, six months down the track, that he is still locked up and there’s no resolution and the government has moved on.”

In what can only be described as a frightening stroke of bad luck, the former BBC and ABC journalist arrived in Cairo just days before he was apprehended.

“He is normally based in Nairobi, Kenya,” Mr Greste said. 

“He was only over in Cairo for the Christmas period filling in for the regular guy who mans that bureau.” 

The journalists “broadcast live news harming domestic security”, the Egyptian government said, adding they were also found in possession of Brotherhood “publications”.

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