Greste's release sets social media ablaze

Greste's release sets social media ablaze
Blog: Social media buzzing with news of Peter Greste's release and thoughts for his colleagues who remain in jail.
6 min read
01 Feb, 2015
The arrests of the AJ three sparked protests across the world, here Hong Kong (AFP)
Australian journalist Peter Greste has been freed after spending 400 days in an Egyptian prison.

The award-winning al-Jazeera English journalist was held on charges of being part of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was designated a terrorist group after a military coup in July 2013 ousted the elected president, Mohammad Morsi, a leader of the movement's political party.

Greste was sentenced to seven years in prison alongside his Egyptian Canadian producer Mohamed Fahmy and his cameraman Mohamed Baher, an Egyptian national who was sentenced to 10 years. The case triggered international condemnation from governments, news outlets and rights groups.

Marking the journalists' 400 days in jail, Mohamed Fahmy’s mother, Wafa Bassiouni, posted an open letter on independent news site Mada Masr urging Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to release her son.

Reports started swirling overnight about Greste’s imminent release with plenty of speculation from journalists who had followed the case closely for over a year.


However, Greste’s brother Andrew Greste quashed premature rumours expressing trepidation at possible false hopes of his release.


A few hours later, journalists reported that Peter Greste was released and to be deported to Australia.


Al-Jazeera confirmed the news Sunday and quickly released a statement expressing relief and calling for the freedom of its other journalists. The statement noted that “the Egyptian authorities have it in their power to finish this properly today, and that is exactly what they must do."


The Egyptian Ministry of Interior confirmed Greste’s release on its official Facebook page.

Prominent social media users meanwhile emphasised that Fahmy and Baher were still behind bars and that other Egyptian journalists must also be freed.


Former parliamentarian and conservative television personality Mostafa Bakry tweeted that Greste would also be released and that Fahmy could be released if he dropped his Egyptian citizenship.

Fahmy’s family, who have been running his Twitter account since his imprisonment, questioned the logic of the release process.

The contested terms of release became a hotly debated topic among social media users


Attention also turned to Baher Mohamed who does not have foreign citizenship and for whom suggestions of a possible release have not been confirmed by anyone yet.

Hours after Greste’s release, his brother posted a celebratory tweet summarising the family’s anguish for over a year. He also echoed calls to release his colleagues.