Jailed journo's parents haunted by image of son in a cage

THE Brisbane parents of jailed journalist Peter Greste say images of their son appearing in an Egypt court in a white prison uniform in a cage are haunting and depressing.

Father Juris Greste told media on Thursday that the image was in stark contrast to the courtroom in South Africa where Paralympian gold medal winner Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering his girlfriend, appearing in open court dressed in a suit

"It absolutely rocked me to see him in the cage," he said.

But Mr Greste said he understood his son was making the best of a bad situation where he was sharing a cell with two Al-Jazeera English colleagues

The three men are in a Cairo prison, allowed out for one hour a day each to exercise, after being accused of airing false news and backing the banned Muslim Brotherhood organisation.

Greste and his colleagues have denied the charges.

The hearing on Wednesday has been adjourned until March 24 to call more witnesses and further evidence.

Mr Greste said Peter and his two colleagues were being very inventive and creative in improving their living conditions to "keep spirits sound" and "mental ability sharp".

He said scraps and waste material were pushed into cracks in the cell wall and ceiling as decorations.

"Nothing that comes into the cell is wasted unless it is literally rotten," he said.

"Pieces of packaging are used to make murals and hanging adornments.

"They pick up small pieces of greenery and flowers from the exercise yard where they are allowed one hour each per day.

"Other leftover pieces of material are used to create games and diversions to keep minds alert and active as they are not allowed reading or writing material.

"Peter says he now knows what it must be like for eskimos during long, cold and dark winters.

"Most of the food that reaches them is cold, however as Peter is a good cook they are able to improve their diets with small modifications using a few ingredients brought in by families or supplemented from the prison canteen."

Mr Greste said he had received a report from the Australian consular in Egypt about the four-hour hearing.

He said evidence was put forward consisting of photographs, computer equipment, mobile phones cameras and flash-drives and the first of five witnesses, a homeland security officer, was called and questioned.

Peter Greste asked Prime Minister Tony Abbott to "speak out" on their behalf when he spoke to journalists during a court break.

"Everybody from the White House down has given their support to us," he reportedly said.

"We haven't heard from the Prime Minister."

Mr Abbott's office told the ABC in a statement that his government had made a number of representations about his release and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had personally raised concerns.

"We strongly support a free media and the Australian Government is deeply concerned about the charges that have been laid against Peter Greste, and the fact that he is currently subject to criminal proceedings in Egypt," the statement read.

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