Accessibility links

Breaking News

Al Jazeera Journalist Welcomes Release From Egyptian Jail


Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste said it was a relief to be freed from an Egyptian prison, but that he feels "incredible angst" about leaving two colleagues behind in jail.

In an interview with Al Jazeera on Monday, Greste said his release is a "massive step forward" for Egypt and that he hopes the country will "keep going down this path" with Al Jazeera's Baher Mohammed and Mohammed Fahmy.

Greste, 49, said if it was appropriate for him to be free, it was right for his two colleagues to be free.

"It was a very difficult moment walking out of that prison, saying goodbye to the guys, not knowing how much longer they all have to put up with this," he said.

In his first public remarks since he was freed Sunday, Greste said he was looking forward to watching a "few sunsets" and the stars, as well as spending time with his family.

"This (release) has been like a rebirth," he said, adding that key to his well-being while he was jailed was a regimen of exercise, study and mediation.

Resting in Cyprus

Egypt deported Greste back to his home in Australia on Sunday, releasing him from more than a year's imprisonment after his conviction for allegedly aiding the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Greste, accompanied by his brother Michael, flew from Egypt to Cyprus, where he has been resting before returning to Australia.

Greste, imprisoned for 400 days, was sentenced last year to a seven-year term on terrorism-related charges.

As he was freed, an Egyptian security official said Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian arrested with Greste in 2013, could be deported within days to Canada. He also was serving a seven-year term.

But there was no word on the fate of Egyptian Mohammed, who was handed a 10-year term for being in possession of a fired bullet casing.

Egyptian authorities had accused the three men of providing a platform for former President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, now declared a terrorist group. But authorities provided no concrete evidence.

The journalists and their supporters insist they were doing their jobs during a time of violent upheaval.

Calls for others to be released

The international human rights watchdog Amnesty International welcomed the news of Greste's release and called for the others to be freed.

Al Jazeera also issued a statement welcoming Greste's release and demanding Egypt free its other two journalists. It said all three have to be exonerated.

Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, described Greste's detention as an incredible and unjustifiable ordeal for the journalist and his family.

Egyptian officials said President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had approved Greste's deportation.

The journalists were widely seen as having been caught up in a regional power struggle between Egypt and Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera and had been a strong backer of Morsi.

Greste's release followed a thawing of ties between Cairo and Doha.

Some material for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.

  • 16x9 Image

    VOA News

    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.