Peter Greste has returned to Australia a changed man after more than 400 days in prison in Egypt. In his first interview with an Australian TV network, Mr Greste told SBS Dateline reporter Meggie Palmer that he had initially thought he would be free within hours.
21 Feb 2014 - 8:00 AM  UPDATED 5 Feb 2015 - 9:26 PM
Thursday 5 Feb 2015

Peter Greste has returned to Australia a changed man after more than 400 days in prison in Egypt.

In his first interview with an Australian TV network, Mr Greste told SBS Dateline reporter Meggie Palmer that he had initially thought he would be free within hours.

Even in prison, he didn’t believe his ordeal would stretch out beyond a few days.

“I really didn’t feel that this was going to be the ordeal that it ultimately turned into,” he said.

Joining the Al Jazeera Cairo bureau on a temporary fill-in assignment, Mr Greste said he knew not to push the boundaries and test authorities in an unfamiliar news environment.

He said it was just an ordinary news day when authorities kicked down his door.

“I’m not sure I can even remember the story we were doing,” he said.

“I was going that day to have dinner with a friend and I got this knock on the door. The door sort of burst open and these guys flooded in and started searching the place.

“They refused to tell me what it was about.”

Mr Greste said he was marched to a police area, before being taken to a crowded police cell and eventually the “big sprawling complex” of the Egyptian jail system.

Read more here.

Freed Australian journalist Peter Greste doesn't want to give up his job as a foreign correspondent, but he recognises his family's misgivings.

Mr Greste was speaking at his first open press conference in Brisbane after being freed from an Egyptian jail and deported from the country earlier this week.

"I don't want to give this up, my job up. I'm a correspondent, it's what I do," he told reporters on Thursday.

"How I do it, whether I actually do go ahead with it I don't know."

His mother Lois said she had always believed her children should follow their passion.

"At the same time ... he has got to know that we are not going to go through this again," she joked.

Mr Greste, who was imprisoned for more than a year, said it felt like he'd been on an "extraordinary odyssey" after arriving back on home soil in the early hours of the morning.

"I've dreamt about this so many times," he said of his arrival.

"The reality is nowhere near what I imagined it to be, this is so so much better."

"This has been an extraordinary odyssey really for everyone."

Mr Greste thanked his supporters, especially his family, who were involved in the campaign to free him.

The reporter was deported on Sunday and flew straight to Cyprus with his brother Michael to rest to rest for a few days, before heading for home.

Mr Greste he walked into the arrivals lounge at Brisbane International Airport smiling, fists pumping, after his plane touched down at 12.30am.

His Al Jazeera colleagues Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed remain in prison after being convicted of broadcasting false news and aiding a terrorist organisation.

Mr Greste and Mr Fahmy were sentenced to serve seven years in jail, and Mr Baher to 10 years.


Freed Australian reporter Peter Greste has wasted no time in turning attention to his colleagues still imprisoned in Egypt.

Freed Australian journalist Peter Greste has called on Egypt to prove justice doesn't depend on a person's nationality by releasing his colleagues and cell mates.

The award-winning journalist arrived home in Brisbane after more than a year in an Egyptian jail in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Mr Greste was released and deported on Sunday before he flew to Cyprus to rest for two days.

His Al Jazeera colleagues Canadian-Egyptian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed remain in prison in Cairo.

Mr Greste walked into the Brisbane airport's arrivals lounge smiling, fist pumping and flashing victory signs at cameras and friends and family.

The Al Jazeera reporter was delirious with joy, shouting "thank you, everyone" and even jokingly asking if the enormous media pack was waiting for somebody.

"I can't tell you how ecstatic I am to be here," Mr Greste said.

"This is a moment I've rehearsed in my mind at least 400 times over the past, well, 400 days."

Mr Greste immediately turned to what he said was a far more important matter - his imprisoned colleagues and friends in Egypt.

"This is all real worries for my colleagues, for Mohammed Fahmy, for Baher Mohammed, for all of the other guys that were imprisoned alongside us," he said.

"The four others, the three students and the businessman, and all of those who were convicted in absentia.

"If it's right for me to be free, then it's (right) for all of us.

"I think Egypt now has an opportunity to show justice doesn't depend on your nationality."

About a dozen friends had shown up to welcome him home in the middle of the night, some driving more than 100km, holding signs that said "Welcome Home Peter" and "Journalism is not a crime".

As Mr Greste spoke, his father Juris, mother Lois and brothers Andrew and Mike stood nearby smiling.

He described his family as the "bedrock" throughout his 400-day incarceration.

"All I've done is sit in a cell for a while and write a couple of letters, they've been the ones to drive this," Mr Greste said.

"And to be back with them and celebrate this with them, has really meant the world."

The award-winning journalist continued greeting and hugging friends and family before he got into a car and was driven away.

Mr Greste has called a press conference in Brisbane at 10am (AEST) on Thursday.

Peter Greste enjoys his freedom in Cyprus before heading home to Australia (Facebook)

Journalist Peter Greste is set to arrive back in Brisbane early on Thursday morning after his release from an Egyptian jail.

The award-winning correspondent was freed from jail and deported on Sunday, and immediately flew with his brother to Cyprus.

After two days rest, Mr Greste boarded a plane bound for Queensland.

His plane is expected to touch down about 1am AEST on Thursday after which he will be privately reunited with his family, a spokeswoman said.

Greste will then make a short statement, with a full press conference scheduled for later in the day.

He told the ABC at Larnaca airport he was "elated" to be going home, but reiterated concerns for colleagues still in jail.

In his first posts on his official Twitter account after more than 400 days in jail, Greste thanked his supporters and said he couldn't wait to see his family in Australia.

"Can't wait for the family reunion," he wrote.

The 49-year-old also posted a picture of himself standing with his feet in the sea, his arms raised in victory signs.

"Free in Cyprus! Feels sweet. Peter back online for first time in 400+ days," he said.

Tuesday 3 Feb 2015
Detained Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy has given up his Egyptian citizenship in an effort to secure his release from a Cairo jail, according to reports.
Detained Canadian-Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy will give up his Egyptian citizenship to secure his release, Canadian media reports.I know @MFFahmy11 & am sure it was agonizing & traumatic to give up his #Egypt citizenship to get...

Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste said on Monday it was a great relief to be freed from prison in Egypt, but that he felt "incredible angst" about leaving two colleagues behind in prison.

Greste was released on Sunday after 400 days in a Cairo jail. He had been sentenced to seven years on charges that included aiding a terrorist group, security officials said.

"This (release) has been like a rebirth," he said in an interview on Al Jazeera, his first public remarks since he was freed. He is in Cyprus for a few days until he travels home to Australia.

Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian, and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian national, remain in prison. They were jailed for between seven and 10 years on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organisation - a reference to the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian authorities accuse Qatar-based Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Qatar-backed movement which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled in 2013 when he was Egypt's army chief.

An Egyptian court sentenced 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death on Monday on charges of killing police officers, part of a sustained crackdown by authorities on Islamists.

More releases sought

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed Greste's release and hopes that the cases of Fahmy and Mohamed "will also be resolved shortly," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Monday.

"The secretary-general again underscores the importance of safeguarding freedom of speech and association in Egypt," Dujarric said.

Egypt's Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page that Sisi released Greste under a decree issued in November authorising him to approve the deportation of foreign prisoners.

Greste said if it was appropriate for him to be free, it was right for his two colleagues to be free, adding that he had only found out about his release order an hour before he was allowed to leave prison.

"I wasn't expecting it at all ... I can't tell you the real sense of that mix of emotion, between a real sense of relief and excitement, and also real stress in having to say goodbye to my colleagues," said Greste, who described the two men as "family".

He called for the release Fahmy and Mohamed, who Greste said had suffered the most in prison because he had missed the birth of his child. A security source said on Sunday that Fahmy was expected to be released and deported to Canada within days.

"For Egypt, this has been a big step forward, I hope Egypt keeps going down this path and releases the others," he said.

Asked what he would most like to do now, Greste said: "Watching a few sunsets. I haven't seen one of those at all for a very long time. Watching the stars, feeling the sand under my toes. The little things."

"You realise it is those little beautiful moments of life that are really precious, and spending time with my family of course. That's what's important, not the big issues."

Monday 2 Feb 2015
Beers and prawns will be on the menu when Peter Greste finally returns home after being freed from an Egyptian jail after more than a year.
The Greste family spent 400 days fighting for their son's freedom. In the end it came so fast it made their heads spin.But exactly when the Al Jazeera journalist will be back on Australian soil remains unclear, as his family closes ranks around...

Andrew Greste has paid a special tribute to SBS Europe Correspondent Brett Mason at the family’s first media conference since the Australian journalist’s release from prison.

Speaking in Brisbane this morning, Andrew said there were many people to thank and started with a heartfelt tribute to Mason.

"Personally I just want a quick mention to Brett Mason who accompanied me on my first trip to Cairo into a pretty stressful and unknown situation," he said.

"If it wasn’t for Brett’s counsel…he’s a veteran of Cairo and he taught me a lot of things in that short week that you’d never read in the travel guides about Cairo and how to get around and survive in Cairo.

"So Brett, thanks mate."

Watch Brett's story for SBS Dateline on Andrew's journey to Cairo: