Jailed Australian journalist asks to be deported from Egypt

January 2, 2015 5:53 am
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The brothers of jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste, Mike (L) and Andrew Greste (R), speak to the media during a press conference in Brisbane on January 2, 2015/AFP
The brothers of jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste, Mike (L) and Andrew Greste (R), speak to the media during a press conference in Brisbane on January 2, 2015/AFP

, BRISBANE, Australia , Jan 2 – Jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste has applied to be deported from Egypt, his family said Friday, describing it as the “best option” after a court ordered a retrial of the Al-Jazeera reporter and two colleagues.

Greste and Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in jail, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed for 10 years, for defaming Egypt and aiding banned Islamists in a case which sparked international uproar.
All three remain in custody pending a new hearing, which analysts said could be a step towards the release of the journalists after more than a year in prison.

Australia and the US have led calls for the three to be released, but hopes have grown as diplomatic relations have thawed between Egypt and Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based.

Greste’s brothers Mike and Andrew said the decision by Egypt’s Court of Cassation on Thursday was a “positive step in the legal process and one step closer to justice being served”. READ: Egypt court orders retrial of jailed Jazeera reporters.

But they added that a decree from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in November allowing him to deport foreigners sentenced to prison or on trial was “the best option to get Peter home”.

“Peter’s Egyptian lawyer lodged an application with the Egyptian attorney-general’s office to have Peter deported pursuant to a presidential decree that was issued in November,” the brothers told reporters in Brisbane, adding that the application was made several weeks ago.

“Now that Peter is an accused person, we will be making an amendment to this application seeking his deportation.”

Hundreds of journalists and supporters, many with black tape over their mouths, held silent protests after the three journalists were sentenced to challenge what they see as growing media censorship in Egypt.

Egyptian authorities have been incensed by Al-Jazeera’s coverage of their deadly crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, accusing Doha of backing his Muslim Brotherhood party after Morsi was deposed in July 2013.

The Brotherhood, which saw electoral success after the overthrow of longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011, has since been declared a “terrorist organisation” in Egypt.

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