Family close ranks around released reporter

February 2, 2015 8:30 am

The Greste family spent 400 days fighting for their son’s freedom. In the end it came so fast it made their heads spin.
But
exactly when the Al Jazeera journalist will be back on Australian soil
remains unclear, as his family closes ranks around him to protect his
mental health.
They say he’ll need time in his safe haven of
Cyprus, to digest the fact he’s finally free after more than a year in
an Egyptian jail.

 Al-Jazeera English producer , left, Canadian-Egyptian
acting Cairo bureau chief , center, and correspondent
, right. Photo / AP

He was jailed after being accused of spreading
false and supporting the banned Islamist movement of deposed
president Mohamed Morsi.
His euphoric family have spoken of their
guarded hope when the rumour mill went into overdrive at the weekend,
with their sources in and in Australia telling them Peter could
soon walk free.

Within hours it had happened, and by early on Monday, Australian time, he was in Cyprus, with his brother Michael by his side.
Australian
diplomats on the ground in Cairo, who had worked so tirelessly for
Peter’s freedom, whisked him straight from prison and onto a plane bound
for the safety of the Mediterranean island country.
And that’s where he’ll stay for as long as he needs to.
“I think he’ll recover well but he needs that space,” his ecstatic mother Lois Greste told reporters on Monday.
“(He’ll come back) when he’s ready to come back. And not before.”
Lois,
father Juris, and brother Andrew laughed and at times blinked back
tears as they spoke of the extraordinary international campaign to free
Peter and two of his Al Jazeera colleagues following their arrest in
December 2013.
They said Peter wanted to thank everyday
Australians, journalists world wide, and leaders including US President
Barack Obama and Prime Minister Tony Abbott for fighting to free him
from his seven-year jail term.
There was special thanks too for
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, but the highest praise was reserved for
diplomats, particularly those on the ground in Cairo, who did the leg
work.
“While we’re in knighthood mode, I would commend them and
recommend them for a collective knighthood, one and all,” Juris told
reporters.
The family’s euphoria has been tempered by the fact
Peter’s colleagues – Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and producer Baher
Mohamed, who is Egyptian – remain locked up on charges described as
politically motivated.
“They also deserve to be freed. We hope your struggle will end very soon,” brother Andrew said.
Fahmy’s
relatives expect him to taste freedom soon under the same law that
allowed Mr Greste’s deportation. But their Egyptian colleague Mohamed
does not have a foreign passport. His family is hoping for a
presidential pardon, or his acquittal on appeal.
Mr Abbott said
the role of Morsi’s successor could not be underestimated, and he was
delighted Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had ordered Greste’s expulsion under a
new law permitting foreign prisoners to be deported.
He also paid tribute to Ms Bishop and to the Greste family’s unwavering determination.
“You never gave up hope and your strength is an inspiration to all of us,” Mr Abbott said.
When
Peter Greste finally returns to Brisbane in the coming days or weeks it
will be into the arms of an emotional family who will want to keep him
close.
And to a meal of beer and prawns.
“There’ll be a tear or two shed, I think,” brother Andrew said.
“And mum will probably put him over her knee,” his father added.

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