Greste and colleagues mark a year behind bars

Australian journalist Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are still trapped in an Egyptian prison – a year after their arrest for doing their job as journalists – and are set to stay there for at least another month.

At an appeal hearing against their convictions on 1 January Egypt’s Court of Cassation ordered a retrial of the journalists’ case but did not release them on bail.

The retrial is expected to take place within a month.

December 29 marked the anniversary of the arrest of the three in a raid on their makeshift offices at the Marriott Hotel in Cairo.

The men were convicted by an Egyptian court in June and sentenced to between 7 and 10 years imprisonment for spreading false information and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.

International condemnation of the decision has been loud and sustained, with rallies and fundraising events held around the world.

Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the International Federation of Journalists, Al Jazeera and Amnesty International have all campaigned hard for the journalists’ release.

Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience and has warned that their arrest and continued imprisonment is a major setback for media freedom in Egypt.

Reports last month suggested President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was considering pardoning the men.

Melbourne Press Club President Michael Rowland said the Club fully supported the international campaign for their release.

“It’s incomprehensible that it’s now a year that Peter and his colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been in jail simply for doing their jobs, like any journalist at any media organisation around the world.

“We ask the Egyptian government to do what’s right, and free the men so that they can return to their families.

“We also salute the enormous strength and courage shown by Peter’s parents, Lois and Juris, and his brothers, Mike and Andrew, and the rest of the family, during the ordeal over the past 12 months.”

In early December Peter Greste was awarded a Walkley for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, “in honour of his journalism and his defiant defence of its universal purpose”.

In a letter read by his brother Mike at the Walkley dinner, Greste said the award was “not so much about what the three of us have done as what we have come to represent: a fight to protect something universally recognised as a fundamental pillar of democracy”.

The Melbourne Press Club encourages members and supporters to sign the Amnesty International petition to free the three.

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