Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Egyptian authorities have dropped legal proceedings against an Australian journalist who has been unable to leave since February because of allegations of fomenting unrest.

Carr said in a statement Wednesday that the Australian Embassy in Cairo has been advised that the matter against Austin Mackell has been dropped, and that his passport and belongings will be returned. Carr's office could not say what would happen to two people arrested with Mackell: American student Derek Ludovici and Egyptian translator Aliya Alwi.

Mackell, Ludovici and Alwi were arrested as part of an Egyptian crackdown on Western-funded pro-democracy groups on charges of fomenting discontent on the first anniversary of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

They were released from custody within days but could not leave Egypt.