Al Jazeera's Greste freed from Egyptian jail

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 02 February 2015

Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste has been released by Egyptian authorities and deported to his native Australia, bringing to an end 400 days imprisonment.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Sunday (1 February) that Greste had arrived in Cyprus and was "desperate" to return to his family in Australia.

His two colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, remain in detention, after the three were found guilty of charges including spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood in a 2014 trial condemned around the world as a 'sham'.

Fahmy, who holds dual Egyptian and Canadian citizenship, may also soon be freed after having his Egyptian nationality revoked, according to presidential sources.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said on Sunday he "remained hopeful that Mr Fahmy's case will be resolved in short order," after speaking with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

Al Jazeera and human rights groups welcomed the news of Greste's release but also called for the immediate freedom of Mohamed and Fahmy.

"The news that Peter Greste will finally be allowed to leave Egypt after more than a year in prison comes as a welcome relief, but nothing can make up for his ordeal. It is vital that in the celebratory fanfare surrounding his deportation the world does not forget the continuing ordeal of Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy who remain behind bars at Tora prison in Cairo," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director, MENA

In a statement, Al Jazeera said the campaign to free its journalists in Egypt would not end until all three had been released. The Qatar-based broadcaster said that all three must be exonerated, and the convictions against its other journalists tried in absentia should also be lifted by Egypt.

"We're pleased for Peter and his family that they are to be reunited. It has been an incredible and unjustifiable ordeal for them, and they have coped with incredible dignity," said Mostefa Souag, acting Director General, Al Jazeera Media Network.

"Peter's integrity is not just intact, but has been further enhanced by the fortitude and sacrifice he has shown for his profession of informing the public.

"We will not rest until Baher and Mohamed also regain their freedom. The Egyptian authorities have it in their power to finish this properly today, and that is exactly what they must do."

Egypt's President Sissi released Greste under a decree issued in November authorising the president to approve the deportation of foreign prisoners, according to the Interior Ministry.

The convictions of Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed were overturned by the Cairo Court of Cassation on 1 January 2015 on procedural grounds but they were kept in detention pending a re-trial.