The freed Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste has arrived in Brisbane after spending over a year in an Egyptian prison. The Australian has called for two of his colleagues who are still in custody to be released as well.
Upon arriving to his Australian homeland on Thursday, Greste was welcomed by friends and supporters involved in a worldwide campaign for his release. The award-winning reporter had been sentenced to seven years by the Egyptian authorities for allegedly aiding Muslim Brotherhood, which they consider to be a terrorist organization.
Two more of his Al-Jazeera television colleagues, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed of Egypt, were charged with him.
“I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am to be here,” said Greste, who spent 400 days behind bars in a Cairo prison, before being released on Sunday.
“This is a moment that I’ve rehearsed in my mind at least 400 times over the past, well, 400 days and it feels absolutely awesome to be here,” the 49-year-old journalist said, calling for the release of his colleagues.
“If it’s right for me to be free then it’s right for all of us…I think that Egypt now has an opportunity to show that justice doesn’t depend on your nationality,” said Greste upon meeting well-wishers on his arrival in Brisbane.
Some of the people waiting to welcome the journalist at the airport held up signs saying, “Journalism is not a crime.”
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said this week that Fahmy’s release was imminent but gave no information concerning the date. According to Fahmy’s family, the Egyptian Canadian had renounced his Egyptian citizenship in a bid to expedite his release.
The other two Al-Jazeera reporters, Egyptian-Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed, remain in prison, after being arrested alongside Greste in 2013. They were convicted for seven to ten years on charges including spreading lies to help the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The Al-Jazeera journalists covered the crackdown on Islamist protests after the army ousted President Mohhamed Morsi.
The controversial trial provoked widespread condemnation directed at the Egyptian courts and political leaders.