Australian journalist Peter Greste returned this week to Nairobi, the Kenyan city he called home before he and two of his colleagues were arrested in Egypt in 2013.
Before a crowd consisting primarily of friends and colleagues from the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa, journalist Peter Greste gave a news conference in Nairobi Friday, thanking them for their support during his period of 400 days in an Egyptian prison.
“We saw people pull together in a way that made it impossible, I think, for the Egyptian authorities to hold onto the idea that we were genuinely working as terrorists,” Greste said.
A reporter for Al Jazeera English, Greste was living in Nairobi when he traveled to Cairo in December 2013 on a short-term reporting assignment. Egyptian authorities arrested him and colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, accusing them of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and for reporting about news deemed “damaging to national security.”
Greste and his colleagues were convicted in a trial that he said was universally recognized as a sham and a travesty of justice.
“If Egypt had a problem with Al Jazeera, then it should have dealt with the network, not with two Egyptians and an Australian,” he said.
Saying he feels a sense of responsibility, Greste wants to use his experience as a way to continue advocating for press freedom and freedom of speech.
“And I think it’s important that we keep talking about it, we keep reminding people why this is important, that we keep press freedom alive, and we don’t let it slip away from us,” said Greste.
Greste was released and deported from Egypt in February this year, under the terms of a presidential decree, although he still carries a criminal conviction and an outstanding prison sentence. Since then, he's been traveling around the world, speaking out on behalf of journalists' right to report freely.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pardoned Fahmy and Mohamed in September.