Al-Jazeera reporter Peter Greste was released Sunday after 400 days in jail in Cairo, Egypt on charges that included aiding a terrorist group.
Egypt’s official news agency said the Australian journalist’s release followed a presidential “approval,” after the country implemented a new deportation law.
He was deported to his native Australia and left Cairo with his brother on a flight bound for Cyprus, airport officials told ABC News Sunday. They were expected to continue on to Australia.
Greste, Al Jazeera journalists Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed were convicted and sentenced last year to seven to ten years in prison for supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood, but they maintained their innocence.
The closely watched trial was largely discredited as a political theater and muscle flexing; Amnesty International charged that it was a show of strength against Egypt’s long-time political rival, Qatar, the country that both finances Al Jazeera and is closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization banned by Egypt after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsy last year.
Al-Jazeera welcomed Greste’s release.
“We’re pleased for Peter and his family that they are to be reunited,” Mostefa Souag, acting director general of al-Jazeera, said in a statement. “It has been an incredible and unjustifiable ordeal for them, and they have coped with incredible dignity. Peter’s integrity is not just intact, but has been further enhanced by the fortitude and sacrifice he has shown for his profession of informing the public.”
There was no immediate word on the status of Fahmy or Baher.