Peter Greste released from Cairo jail, returning to Australia

Australian journalist Peter Greste has been freed after 400 days in an Egyptian jail.

The Al Jazeera correspondent was found guilty of “defaming Egypt and “spreading false news” in a trial laden with inconsistencies and procedural errors, with his imprisionment prompting objections from media and governments around the world.

Greste, who holds an Australian passport, has been deported from Egypt and is on his way home to Australia. His two colleagues, both Egyptian citizens, have not been freed.

He was set free by order of Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued under a new law allowing foreign prisoners to be deported.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Greste was “immensely relieved and desperate to come home to Australia and reunite with his family.”

In a statement, Al Jazeera said the campaign to free its journalists in Egypt will not end till all three have been released. It said that all three have to be exonerated, and the convictions against its other journalists tried in absentia also have to be lifted. 

Mostefa Souag, acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network said: “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. 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.

Peter Greste has reported for tv and radio news at the BBC, Reuters and Al Jazeera. In 1995 he was based in Afghanistan, where he was a correspondent for the BBC and Reuters. He then worked in Belgrade, or Reuters and, after a year, returned to London, where he worked for BBC News 24. He has also reported in Mexico, Santiago, the Middle East and Latin America. From 2004 he was based in Mombasa, Kenya, then Johannesburg and Nairobi.