Tuesday 20 February 2018

Greste says freedom is a 'rebirth'

Peter Greste's parents Juris and Lois and his brother Andrew pose with a poster of him in Brisbane, Australia (AP)
Peter Greste's parents Juris and Lois and his brother Andrew pose with a poster of him in Brisbane, Australia (AP)

Al-Jazeera's Australian journalist Peter Greste, speaking a day after his release from prison in Egypt, says his freedom was something of a "rebirth".

He added that key to his well-being while incarcerated for more than a year was exercising, studying and meditating.

In his first public comments since his release, he told Al-Jazeera English that he is looking forward to watching a "few sunsets" and the stars, as well as spending time with his family.

He said: "It is those little beautiful moments of life that are really precious."

Mr Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed were arrested in December 2013 and later convicted over their coverage of the violent crackdown on Islamist protests that year.

There has been no word on the release of the other two.

Egyptian authorities accused the trio of providing a platform for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, now declared a terrorist organisation.

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.

Mr Greste's release follows a relative thaw of ties between Cairo and Doha.

There has been no word on the release of Greste's two colleagues. While Mr Fahmy is expected to be deported to Canada when released, it is not immediately clear what will happen to Mr Mohammed, who has only Egyptian citizenship.

Mr Greste, 49, said it was difficult for him to walk out of prison and leave behind inmates with whom he bonded.

He said because of several false starts of his release, he had remained unsure he would be free until he was seated on the EgyptAir plane that took him to Cyprus on Sunday.

"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.

Press Association

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