Egypt’s prime minister quietly approved Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste’s release from a Egyptian prison on Saturday. It wasn’t until Greste boarded a plane leaving the country to Cyprus that the government made the announcement. CCTV’s Adel El Mahrouky reported this story from Cairo, and CCTV’s Greg Navarro reported from Sydney.
Greste freed from Egyptian prison; worried about colleagues still jailedEgypt's prime minister quietly approved Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste's release from a Egyptian prison on Saturday. It wasn't until Greste boarded a plane leaving the country to Cyprus that the government made the announcement. CCTV’s Adel El Mahrouky reported this story from Cairo.
“In many occasions President el Sisi said, if I had the power I would have released the journalists. So they created a law particularly to give him this power. And it was very clear that the law only applied to Peter. So I was expecting the release to follow the decree law immediately, that was three months ago, but why did it take them that long, I don’t know,” a member of Greste’s defense team Shaaban Said said.
Greste expressed “relief and excitement” Monday at being freed after more than a year in an Egyptian prison, but also said he felt real stress over leaving his two jailed colleagues behind. Fellow journalists Mohamed Fahmy, an Egyptian Canadian, and Baher Mohammed, an Egyptian, remained imprisoned on terrorism charges and for spreading false information.
Greste’s parents and brother Andrew talked with reporters after learning news that Peter Greste had been deported from Egypt after spending 400 days in jail.
“We have spoken with him recently and Peter firstly wanted to thank all the people who have supported him, who have given time, money, and energy in seeking his freedom,” Andrew Greste, Peter Greste’s brother said.
Peter Greste is released from Egyptian prison, his family reactsEgypt's prime minister quietly approved Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste's release from a Egyptian prison on Saturday. It wasn't until Greste boarded a plane leaving the country to Cyprus that the government made the announcement. CCTV's Greg Navarro reported this story from Sydney
While the news was welcomed by the Greste family, it was bittersweet for colleagues of the other two journalists who remain jailed.
“Today’s a day of very mixed emotions and I think we have to focus on the fact that Baher and Mohamed are still behind bars 400 days after being taken into detention and that injustice needs to come to an end. They are guilty of nothing apart from great journalism,” Al Anstey, Managing Director at Al Jazeera English said.
The three were arrested in December 2013 and received sentences of seven to 10 years before their convictions were overturned on appeal. A retrial began Jan. 1.
Fahmy has given up his Egyptian citizenship as President Abdel Fattah el Sisi’s decree states that the deportations only apply to foreigners.
Of all the Aljazeera journalists, Baher the Egyptian citizen is the least fortunate. He can’t drop his citizenship and get tried in a different country. He will have to wait until a judge is appointed for the retrial. He could remain in prison or in best case get released from provisional detention but be banned from leaving the country, until a verdict is reached.
Story compiled from CCTV and AP reports.