CAIRO: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed his “personal delight and our nation’s relief at the overnight release of Peter Greste and to reiterate our support, as a Government and as a people for a free media and a free press,” in a news conference Monday in Canberra.
After more than a year of detention, Peter Greste, an Australian citizen, received a presidential pardon and was flown to Cyprus Sunday, where he was met by his parents and brother.
“I particularly want to place on record my gratitude to Egypt’s President Sisi, for the understanding he has shown every time I have discussed with him Peter Greste’s predicament. His role in Peter’s release cannot be underestimated,” Abbott added.
Greste, along with two other colleagues from Al Jazeera English, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, were arrested on Dec. 29, 2013, accused of broadcasting false news. Since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, Al Jazeera has been seen in Egypt as a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood, which was declared a terrorist organization four days before the trio’s arrest.
The European Union released a statement Monday on its site calling Greste’s release a “positive step,” adding, “his colleagues, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed however, remain in custody and we call for their release. Freedom of expression is an essential element of a democratic society. Journalists must be able to work in a safe working environment.”
The fiancée of Mohamed Fahmy, a dual Canadian-Egyptian citizen, spoke to Reuters Sunday and said “his deportation is in its final stages. We are hopeful.”