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Australian Greste overjoyed at colleagues’ Egypt release

February 13, 2015

Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste said Friday he was overjoyed that two colleagues have been released from an Egyptian jail but said that with a retrial pending, it was too soon to celebrate.

Mohamed Fahmy, who is Canadian, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were freed on bail Thursday after more than 400 days in prison after an appeals court ordered a retrial.

Australian Greste was deported earlier this month after intense diplomatic pressure.

The three were accused of supporting the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood and originally jailed for between seven and 10 years each in a case that sparked worldwide outrage.

Greste said he was waiting for the day when the three of them were declared innocent and said it was too soon for jubilation given the retrial still hanging over his colleagues’ heads.

“The trial is ongoing, and nobody has yet been acquitted,” he said in comments carried by Australian Associated Press news agency.

“I’m looking forward to the day when the court declares all of us innocent of the charges. Then the party will really begin.”

Following his arrival in Australia last week, Greste said that his time in jail had been tough physically and mentally but that the three men had been treated well.

Despite being wary of what might happen next, he said he was overjoyed that Fahmy and Mohamed were free and able to reunite with their families.

“One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was to walk out of prison and leave them behind, so it is wonderful to know that they’re at last able to join their families as I did just over a week ago,” he said.

The two must appear in court again on February 23.

The case has been a major embarrassment for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he seeks to shore up international support following a widely condemned crackdown on the opposition.

The journalists’ initial trial came against the backdrop of strained ties between Egypt and Qatar, which supported ousted president Mohamed Morsi and is where Al-Jazeera is based.

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