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Greste and jailed journalist colleagues in Egypt

February 1, 2015

Australian Peter Greste, who was freed from an Egyptian prison and deported on Sunday, is a seasoned foreign correspondent who has covered conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Greste, who turned 49 in jail, worked for several news organisations including Reuters and the BBC before joining Al-Jazeera’s English news channel.

He was the BBC’s Kabul correspondent in 1995, where he watched the Taliban emerge, and he returned after the US-led invasion in 2001.

Since 2009, he was based in Nairobi from where he covered the Horn of Africa, winning the broadcasting industry’s prestigious Peabody Award in 2011 for the documentary, “Somalia: Land of Anarchy”.

Constantly on the road on reporting assignments, Sydney-born Greste has also served in Bosnia and headed the BBC’s South American operations from Mexico.

“From a young age, Peter Greste had an adventurous spirit and a strong send of social justice and fairness,” his supporters said on the campaigning website

Arrested in December 2013, Greste was sentenced to seven years in prison along with a fellow Al-Jazeera reporter, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, for allegedly aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood group.

An Egyptian colleague, Baher Mohamed, was sentenced to 10 years.

In January, a court ordered a retrial, before President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi passed a law making Greste and Fahmy eligible for deportation.

– Fahmy and Mohamed –

Dual national Fahmy, 40, had only been named head of Al-Jazeera’s Cairo office in September 2013, three months before his arrest.

Born in Cairo, his parents emigrated to Canada in 1991 and settled in Quebec. He graduated in business administration from Vancouver University.

With the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, he worked as an interpreter for the Los Angeles Times, and the next year Fahmy wrote “An Interpreter’s Chronicles of the Iraq War”.

He went on to work for Gulf television stations and then the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In 2011, CNN employed him to cover the Arab Spring revolt in Egypt which toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak and then he went on to work as a freelancer for the BBC.

Al-Jazeera gave him the chance to settle in the city of his birth with fiance Marwa Magid, planning to marry in April 2014.

He will return with his fiance to Canada where they now plan to get married “right away”, his brother Adel Fahmy said last year.

Baher Mohamed’s family, for their part, hope for a presidential pardon.

He covered the Arab Spring revolts in Libya, Yemen and Egypt. Mohamed had worked as a freelancer for a Japanese publication before joining Al-Jazeera in mid-2013.

Aged 30, he has a daughter and three sons, the youngest of whom, now five months old, was born while Mohamed was behind bars.

“Baher was always in the thick of all the violence in Egypt… He always wanted to relay the truth himself, rather than rely on other sources,” brother Assem said.

The arrest of the three journalists prompted a global outcry, with Washington and the United Nations leading calls for their release.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.