Greste family pray New Year hearing will bring hope

IT HAS been a lonely Christmas for the Greste family. Their hopes of seeing their jailed brother are dependent on an Egyptian court hearing on New Year's Day.

Yesterday jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste marked an unhappy anniversary - one year in Egyptian jail.

Mr Greste was arrested and imprisoned for "spreading false news" on December 29 last year. He was sentenced to seven years jail in a trial marked with controversy.

In Brisbane yesterday, Mr Greste's brothers Andrew and Mike said it had been a "trying and lonely" Christmas with Peter jailed.

Their parents are in Egypt supporting Peter, but Mike said they had been only able to see him a few times.

Peter will challenge his conviction at the Egyptian Court of Cassation that will decide whether he has grounds to appeal.

Andrew said it had been a tough year for the family but they remained hopeful of a happier 2015.

"Mum and dad went and visited him on Christmas Day. It was a fairly sombre occasion," Andrew said.

"It's been a trying Christmas, and certainly a lonely one. But having said that, there are plenty of families that were separated at the time, so we're certainly not the only ones that have had a sombre Christmas."

The Grestes expect Peter will remain in Mazraa Prison on Thursday because only lawyers and judges will be present at the closed hearing.

Mike said a thawing of relations between Qatar, where Mr Greste's employer Al Jazeera is based, and Egypt was a positive development for the case.

"I think it's a pivotal moment in the whole process. The warming of relations between Qatar and Egypt I think is an important step for us. I'd like to think it's removed the political aspect of the reason Peter was arrested," Mike said.

Andrew thanked what he said was ongoing overwhelming community support for Peter.

"We've seen some fantastic acts of activism, I guess you would call it, where people have felt strongly about the injustice and Peter's case and they've wanted to do something, they've wanted to help," Andrew said.

"It keeps us going; it's great for the case. It keeps the case in the public attention. And grateful for all those sort of things.

"Obviously Peter gets some of those messages and finds out about some of those activities but it's very difficult for him to comprehend how much support for him is out there."


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