Australian journalist Peter Greste of Al-Jazeera looks on during his 2014 trial in Egypt.
Australian journalist Peter Greste of Al-Jazeera looks on during his 2014 trial in Egypt.
PHOTO: Getty Images

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Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste releases letter from Cairo jail

Greste and two others were sentenced last June on charges of "disseminating false news"

The three have denied the charges

(CNN) —  

“As we approach the end of our first year in prison, I cannot help but feel proud and strengthened by all that has been achieved so far,” said journalist Peter Greste in a letter from a Cairo jail cell.

In the letter, released just a few days before Christmas, the Al Jazeera journalist praises his supporters fighting not just for his release, but also for the freedom of the press worldwide.

“We have galvanized an incredible coalition of political, diplomatic and media figures, as well as a vast army of social media supporters to fight for that most basic of rights: the right to know,” the former BBC correspondent wrote.

Last June, an Egyptian court sentenced Greste and his colleagues Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed to seven years in prison on charges of disseminating false news and supporting a terrorist organization.

The three men have steadfastly denied the charges and the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera network has said “they were just doing their job covering and challenging all sides of the story in Egypt.”

But this week Qatar shut down an Al Jazeera-run affiliate accused by the Cairo government of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, a group now considered a terror organization by Egypt.

Some experts have suggested that the move signals a cooling of tensions between Qatar and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al Sisi, who overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood and imprisoned much of its leadership last year. This may bode well for the imprisoned journalists, they say.

“We haven’t won this fight yet – we are still behind bars after all – but we have made our cause abundantly and unequivocally clear,” the letter reads. “And for that reason, it really is a very good Christmas.”