RIGA: Latvia said Wednesday it expected Egypt to immediately release Al-Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste, a dual Australian-Latvian citizen, charged by Cairo with spreading false information and aiding terrorists.
“We expect his immediate release as he has committed no crime,” Latvian foreign ministry spokesman Karlis Eihenbaums told AFP.
“The Egyptian authorities have promised a fair trial,” he said as allegations surfaced in a Cairo court Wednesday that other journalists on trial alongside Greste had been tortured in prison.
“Latvia and Australia are cooperating. Support to his lawyers been provided, who are working hard,” Eihenbaums added.
He confirmed that Australia-born Greste, whose father is from Latvia, had registered as a Latvian in the 1990s as the Baltic nation broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991.
Despite being registered and receiving a certificate of citizenship, he never formally collected his passport, Eihenbaums said.
“He is a Latvian citizen. He registered as Latvian citizen in the 1990s. His father is a Latvian citizen, which automatically entitled him to citizenship,” he added.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics has taken up Greste’s case with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the Egyptian government.
Rinkevics and Australian counterpart Julie Bishop agreed Wednesday by telephone “to closely coordinate the activities of Latvian and Australian diplomatic services to have Peter Greste released as soon as possible”, according to a Latvian foreign ministry statement.