Free reporter's angst at leaving friends in jail
The Australian journalist who was freed from jail in Egypt has described his "incredible angst" at leaving two Al Jazeera colleagues behind.
In his first public comments since his surprise release after 400 days in jail, Peter Greste said he was looking forward to watching a "few sunsets" and the stars, as well as spending time with his family.
He called on the Egyptian authorities to release Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, calling them his "brothers". "If it's appropriate for me to be free, its right for all of them to be freed," he said.
Last June, the three men were jailed for between seven and 10 years on terrorism charges that critics decried as politically motivated.
Mr Greste likened his release to a "rebirth". "The sense of euphoria, of optimism, is so overwhelming," he said. Looking pale and tired, he said the feeling of leaving Cairo's Tora Prison at just a few minutes notice was "extraordinary".
"The prison warden called me over and told me it's time to pack your stuff," he said. "There was a mix of emotion boiling inside."
"It was a very difficult moment walking out of that prison, saying goodbye to the guys, not knowing how much longer they all have to put up with this," he said.
Last night his mother Lois said: "I'm ecstatic," reacting to the news that her son was free. "It is difficult to realise that this day has actually come, even though I dreamed about it quietly, not daring to think about it too much."
His father, Juris Greste, added: "It is yet to sink in… I feel 40 years younger."
Mr Greste, who previously worked for the BBC, was deported after 400 days in an Egyptian jail. He and two colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were jailed on charges of reporting in aid of the Muslim Brotherhood - allegations they insisted were baseless and politically motivated.
Insisting that Mr Greste would not rest until his two colleagues were released, his family said they had been "stunned" by the show of support from people around the world, ranging from US President Barack Obama to locals in Brisbane who provided them with meals.
"People in the street have walked up to us and said 'I'm so sorry and I support you'," said Mrs Greste.
"Hopefully we'll have Champagne tonight. It has been waiting in the fridge since the verdict."
Andrew Greste said his brother would need "a little bit of time to absorb what has actually occurred and the enormity of what's occurred today". He said Mr Greste and their brother Mike had arrived in Cyprus and had a meal of pork and beer, which were "rare commodities in an Egyptian prison". "He's on a high right now but we want to make sure that things are kept at a fairly manageable level," he said.
"It [the release] has come at very short notice and out of the blue. Egypt is an unpredictable place. Until he was on that plane anything could have happened." (© Daily Telegraph, London)