Australian Al-Jazeera reporter Peter Greste released from Egypt jail

February 1, 2015 7:43 pm

Al Jazeera reporter will return home to Australia after
being released from an Egyptian jail following a 400-day ordeal.
A
Cairo airport official confirmed Greste left the city on an EgyptAir
flight to Larnaca, Cyprus that took off shortly after 4pm local time on
Sunday (3am NZT on Monday).
Mr Greste’s brother, Andrew,
confirmed the release in a brief statement and said on Twitter the
ex-BBC reporter was “on his way home”.

 Al-Jazeera English producer Baher Mohamed, left, Canadian-Egyptian
acting Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, center, and correspondent
Peter Greste, right. Photo / AP

“We’re ecstatic that Peter
has been released and we now ask if the world could respect his
privacy, to give him time to appreciate his freedom before he faces the
media,” Andrew Greste said in the statement.
Earlier, a senior interior ministry official said there had been a decision to deport Greste to his home country.

“There is a presidential decision to deport Peter Greste to Australia,” the official said.
Greste
had been sentenced to seven years in prison along with a fellow
Al-Jazeera reporter, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, for allegedly
aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood group.
Their Egyptian Al-Jazeera colleague Baher Mohamed was also sentenced to 10 years.
Local reports suggested Mr Fahmy would be deported to Canada within days but there was no word on the fate of Mr Mohamed.
Greste
and Fahmy are eligible for deportation under a recent law enacted by
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi allowing the deportation of foreigners to
stand trial or serve their sentences in their home countries.
There is no prospect that Greste or Fahmy would face trials in their home countries.
Mr Greste was arrested in December 2013 and imprisoned last June on charges that included spreading false .
He and all of the defendants denied the charges against them and said their trial was a sham.
’s
president said in November he was considering the possibility of
granting pardons to the two foreign Al Jazeera journalists.
In January, Egypt’s top court ordered a retrial of all three men.
Al Jazeera welcomed Mr Greste’s release and called on Egypt to also release Mr Fahmy and Mr Mohamed.
“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,” acting director of the Doha-based network, Mostefa Souag,
said.
“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.”
Andrew
Greste said on Twitter it was “hard to believe” his brother was finally
a free man, adding “Without the worldwide support we could not have got
through it. @PeterGreste on his way home.”
– AAP

New Zealand Media Freedom Committee welcomes release

New Zealand Media Freedom Committee has also welcomed the release of Mr Greste, a former Radio New Zealand correspondent.
Committee chair Joanna Norris said Mr Greste and his colleagues should never have had to endure their ordeal.
“The
freedom of the media to report and publish views without fear of
prosecution and violence is fundamental to a free and healthy society.
“Functioning
democracies steadfastly recognise the benefit of these freedoms through
legislation and actions that protect the rights of journalists.
“The three Al Jazeera journalists for jailed for simply doing their jobs. That is not acceptable.”

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