SYDNEY – An Al-Jazeera reporter who spent more than a year in an Egyptian prison returned home to Australia on Thursday, where he was greeted by friends and supporters who had campaigned for his release.
Peter Greste, who was released on Sunday after 400 days behind bars in a case widely condemned as a sham by human rights activists, landed in the Queensland state capital of Brisbane early Thursday morning after spending the past two days recuperating in Cyprus.
Supporters held up signs at the airport saying, "Journalism is not a crime."
Greste's arrival signaled the end to his ordeal, but the fate of his still-jailed Egyptian colleagues remains unknown. Egyptian-Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed were arrested along with Greste in 2013 over their coverage of the violent crackdown on Islamist protests following the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi. Egyptian authorities accused them of providing a platform for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, now declared a terrorist organization, though officials never provided concrete evidence.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said this week that Fahmy's release was imminent but gave no timeframe.
Greste, 49, planned to hold a news conference later Thursday. On Monday, he told Al-Jazeera English he was relieved to be free, but concerned about his imprisoned colleagues.
On Tuesday, after posting on Twitter a photo of himself posing victoriously in the ocean in Cyprus, he tweeted: "MUST NOT FORGET THOSE STILL IN PRISON."
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott thanked the Egyptian president by telephone on Tuesday for his help in securing Greste's release.