Peter Greste

Peter Greste (born 1 December 1965)[2] is a Latvian-Australian journalist and correspondent. From 1991 to 1995 he was based in London, Bosnia and South Africa, where he worked for Reuters, CNN, WTN and the BBC. On 29 December 2013, he and two other Al Jazeera English journalists, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohammad, were arrested by Egyptian authorities.[3] On 23 June 2014, Greste was found guilty by the court, and sentenced to seven years of incarceration.[4]On 1 February 2015, a month after a retrial of Greste, Fahmy, and Mohammad was announced, Greste was deported and flown to Cyprus. Neither of his colleagues has been released.[5]

Early life

Greste’s ancestry is Latvian.[1] He is a dual citizen of Australia and Latvia.[6]

Career

In 1995 he was based in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was a correspondent for the BBC and Reuters, after which for a year he was based in Belgrade, where he was a correspondent for Reuters. He then returned to London, where he worked for BBC News 24. He was then based in Mexico, then Santiago, where he was a correspondent for the BBC.[7] He returned to Afghanistan in 2001 to cover the start of the war. After Afghanistan, he worked across the Middle East and Latin America. From 2004 he was based in Mombasa, Kenya, then Johannesburg, South Africa, followed by Nairobi, Kenya, where he has lived since 2009. In 2011, he won a Peabody Award for a documentary on Somalia. He is a correspondent for Al Jazeera English in Africa.[8][9]

Egyptian trial

Greste was arrested in Cairo with colleagues at the end of December 2013. The interior ministry said the journalists were accused of news reporting which was “damaging to national security”.[10] Greste was imprisoned in Egypt in solitary confinement for a month before any formal charges were made.[11] On 29 January, it emerged that the Egyptian authorities were to charge 20 Al Jazeera journalists, including Greste, of falsifying news and having a negative impact on overseas perceptions of the country.[12] His colleagues, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, are also imprisoned; the three men were being held in the same cell in early February 2014.[13] The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged the authorities in Egypt to “promptly release” the Al Jazeera staff they are holding in custody.[14]
On 21 February, Greste was refused bail and had his court case adjourned until 5 March.[15]On 31 March, he and co-defendants Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed made a request to a judge during a hearing to be released.[3] During the hearing Greste told the judge: “The idea that I could have an association with the Muslim Brotherhood is frankly preposterous.”[3]On 23 June, Greste was found guilty by the court, and sentenced to seven years in prison. Mohammed Fahmy also received seven years and Baher Mohammed received a sentence of ten years in prison.[16] International reaction was swift and negative. US Secretary of State John Kerry was highly critical of the sentences of Greste and his co-workers, terming them “chilling and draconian” and noted he had spoken to Egyptian governmental officials including President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.[17] Al-Sisi however was unmoved. A day after the trial, and amidst the widespread international condemnation, the Egyptian president declared that he would not interfere with judicial rulings.[18]
Greste and his colleagues were seen internationally as political prisoners due to the nature of the trial, the lack of applicable evidence presented and the sentences.[19]On 1 January 2015 the Court of Cassation announced a retrial for Greste and his colleagues. Release on bail was not permitted.[20] On 1 February, Greste was deported to Australia. The Egyptian law allowing the deportation of foreigners stipulates that they face prison or trial in their home country, but Australia is not likely to uphold Greste’s conviction.[21] Otherwise, no explanation was given for his release.[22]
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