Australian leader thanks Egypt for reporter's freedom

AP News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2015 7:01 PM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister thanked the Egyptian president on Tuesday for his help in releasing an Australian reporter from prison and expressed hope that two Al-Jazeera colleagues would also be freed soon.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by telephone for the first time since Australian Al-Jazeera reporter Peter Greste was released from an Egyptian prison over the weekend, the prime minister's office said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The prime minister thanked President el-Sisi for his effort to bring Peter Greste's imprisonment to an end," the statement said.

"Prime Minister Abbott expressed hope that Mr. Greste's colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed might be released soon," it said.

Greste, 49, is due to land in his hometown of Brisbane on Thursday.

Greste, Fahmy — a dual Egyptian-Canadian citizen — and Egyptian Baher Mohammed were arrested in Cairo in December 2013 and later convicted over their coverage of the violent crackdown on Islamist protests that year.

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird said on Monday that Fahmy's release was imminent but gave no timeframe. Fahmy has relinquished his Egyptian citizenship as prerequisite to his deportation.

Prison officials and Egypt's official Middle East News Agency said Greste's release resulted from a "presidential approval" and was coordinated with the Australian Embassy.