The UK’s Royal Television Society has presented its Judges’ Award to Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy.
The award is given to recognise their outstanding contribution to the advancement of television journalism.
The trio were put in prison by the Egyptian authorities on 29 December 2013. Greste was only finally released earlier this month, while the ordeal for Mohamed and Fahmy continues – they were bailed last week pending retrial.
In presenting the award, the RTS said: “Tonight the RTS recognises the three ‘brothers,’ as Peter has called them. The released one and two on bail. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. Men who conducted themselves with enormous dignity and courage in the face of continued uncertainty about their fate. And we also recognise the commitment of the people who have campaigned and continue to campaign for the release of the two on bail.”
Accepting the award on behalf of all three, Greste thanked his fellow news professionals: “I’d be willing to bet this award that journalists have never united around a single common cause in the way that they have ours. I know how important it has been.
“For us in prison, of course we knew a bit about it. We were aware of some of the demonstrations; we’d heard about the zip-the-lips campaign and the letters. We knew the subject was consistently coming up in news conferences and interviews. And most surprisingly, some of our most vocal supporters were our direct rivals like CNN and the BBC, who’d normally rather eat their own babies than acknowledge the opposition!
“At the personal level, it was hugely empowering. It helped put rods of steel into our spines, because we came to understand that this was about something far bigger than the three of us alone. It was about the universal principles of freedom of expression, about the public’s right to know. And we knew you were right there with us.”