Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Egypt Releases Imprisoned Al-Jazeera Reporter; He Is Deported after More Than a Year Behind Bars; Two Colleagues Remain Jailed

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Egypt Releases Imprisoned Al-Jazeera Reporter; He Is Deported after More Than a Year Behind Bars; Two Colleagues Remain Jailed

Article excerpt

CAIRO * A reporter for Al-Jazeera English was released from an Egyptian prison and deported Sunday after more than a year behind bars, but his two Egyptian colleagues remained jailed in a case widely condemned as a sham by human-rights groups.

Australian Peter Greste was whisked away on a flight to Cyprus. His release came as a welcome surprise to fellow reporters and activists who spent months pressing for his freedom.

But rights groups and Greste's Qatar-based broadcaster called on Egypt to release the other two defendants in the case, which has hindered the country's international standing as it struggles to recover from the political unrest and economic collapse caused by the 2011 uprising.

Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed were arrested in December 2013 over their coverage of the violent crackdown on Islamist protests after the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi.

Egyptian authorities accused them of providing a platform for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, now declared a terrorist organization. But authorities provided no concrete evidence. The journalists and their supporters insist they were doing their jobs during a time of violent upheaval.

The three were widely seen as having been caught up in a regional power struggle between Egypt and Qatar, which funds Al-Jazeera and had been a strong backer of Morsi. Greste's release follows a thawing of ties between Cairo and Doha.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who had been negotiating for Greste's release, said Monday that the journalist, 49, had told her by telephone from Egypt that he was desperate to return to his family in the Australian city of Brisbane after spending 400 days in custody.

"He was immensely relieved and he was desperate to come home to Australia and reunite with his family," Bishop told reporters in Sydney. "From my discussion with him, he was very keen to be back on a beach and lying in the sun in Australia," she said. …

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