Egypt frees Australian reporter Greste after 400 days in jail

Update: February, 02/2015 - 10:21

CAIRO — Egypt has freed and deported Australian journalist Peter Greste after more than 400 days following a global outcry over his jailing on charges of backing the Muslim Brotherhood, but two colleagues remained in prison.

Greste, an award-winning correspondent for Al-Jazeera English television, flew to Larnaca in Cyprus with brother Michael after his release from Cairo's Tora prison, interior ministry and airport officials said on Sunday.

His brother Andrew told reporters in Brisbane Peter's excitement was "restrained," adding "he won't give up" until his colleagues were also freed.

In Canberra, Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke of his "personal delight and our nation's relief" at Greste's release, expressed his government's support for a free media and thanked Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Greste was detained with colleagues Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed in December 2013 on charges of aiding the blacklisted Brotherhood.

The arrest of the three journalists sparked worldwide condemnation with Washington and the United Nations leading calls for their release.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera welcomed Cairo's decision and expressed hope the other two journalists would soon be set free.

"We're pleased for Peter and his family that they are to be reunited," said Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al-Jazeera Media Network.

"We will not rest until Baher and Mohamed also regain their freedom." Fahmy's relatives expect him to also be deported under a decree passed by Sisi that allows for the transfer of foreigners on trial, but it was not immediately clear when he would be released.

Greste's family expressed their joy after speaking to Peter on the phone and vowed his colleagues still behind bars would not be forgotten.

"I'm ecstatic," his mother Loris told a press conference in their hometown Brisbane.

"I just can't say how happy I am about it." Greste was resting in Cyprus and the family said it was not clear when he would arrive in Australia.

"He is gathering his thoughts for the trip home," brother Andrew said. "He is safe, healthy, very, very happy to be on his way home." "He's not going to forget his two other colleagues," Andrew added. — AFP