Jailed Al Jazeera reporter Peter Greste, who had been imprisoned in Egypt for 400 days, was deported to his home country of Australia Sunday, according to Reuters. Greste was arrested in December 2013 and held in the North African nation on charges of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and producing fake stories to inflame tensions in Egypt. He was sentenced to seven years in prison last June.
Meanwhile, there has been no word about the status of either of Greste’s colleagues at Al Jazeera -- Egyptian Mohammed Baher and Egyptian-Canadian Mohammed Fahmy -- who were also jailed.
Al Jazeera demanded the release of Baher and Fahmy, saying in a statement, “The Egyptian authorities have it in their power to finish this properly today, and that is exactly what they must do.”
Egypt’s top court previously ordered a retrial of the three journalists, as BBC News reported New Year’s Day.
They were arrested and tried because of their coverage of the violent crackdown on Islamist protests in the wake of the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, AP noted.
After the announcement of Greste’s conviction and sentencing last June, the journalist said he was “devastated and outraged” over the verdict.
“Throughout this trial, the prosecutor has consistently failed to present a single piece of concrete evidence to support the outrageous allegations against us,” Greste said in a statement posted by Al-Jazeera. The evidence encompassed news reports that were made when the journalists were not present in Egypt, a video by Australian singer Gotye and recordings that had nothing to do with Egypt.
The judicial results drew worldwide condemnation, with the White House calling the seven-year sentences for Greste and Fahmy and the 10-year term for Baher “a blow to democratic progress in Egypt.”
“I know that our freedom, and more importantly the freedom of Egypt’s press, will never come without noisy, sustained pressure from individuals, human-rights groups, governments and anyone who understand the fundamental importance of a free press to Egypt’s fledgling democracy,” Greste said in his statement last year.
Greste added that he and the other jailed journalists “are all grateful for the unprecedented public support that countless people have offered us throughout this ordeal. It has kept us strong and continues to do so. We must all remain committed to fight this gross injustice for as long as necessary.”