The family of Peter Greste, an award-winning Australian journalist held for 400 days in Egyptian jail, implored the media for privacy as news of his release spread this week. Greste was being held in Egypt with two colleagues from Al Jazeera, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, and Baher Ghorab. Fahmy and Ghorab are still in captivity.
Greste was arrested in Cairo on December 29, 2013 after just a few weeks of being in Egypt for work. He and his colleagues were put on an internationally publicized trial in which Greste was convicted of reporting false news and endangering Egypt’s national security. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and was held in Cairo’s Tora Prison.
On Monday, the Greste family confirmed through a spokesperson that Peter had been released and was on his way home.
“I cannot ask strongly enough that you to please NOT contact the Grestes at this time,” implored spokesperson Heidi Ross when announcing a Monday press conference in Australia. “Attempting to go direct will not result in interview, just disruption/distress for the family and Peter.”
The family did include a statement with the email in which one of Peter’s brothers, Andrew, said that they were “ecstatic.” But he also implored for Peter’s privacy.
“…give him time to appreciate his freedom before he faces the media,” said Andrew.
In previously unpublished direct answers to questions asked over email by Epoch Times in September 2014, Andrew had said that the entire family was involved in some way in securing Peter’s release.
“The ordeal has gone on way beyond our initial expectations and it has been quite stressful and draining on us all but particularly our parents,” wrote Andrew at the time. “They are in their late 70’s and retired, and fighting a campaign such as this one is not what you expect or want to be doing in the later years of your retirement.”
The family went as far as living in Cairo in shifts of 2-3 months at a time in order to be near Peter for visitations and to assist in the legal campaign for his release.
Andrew, a married cotton and grain farmer with three sons, also spent several months at a time living in Egypt to help his brother.
“The thing that continues to drive us in this campaign is our belief that Peter is innocent, has done nothing wrong and doesn’t deserve to be there,” wrote Andrew in September. “I would like to think that if I was in a similar predicament Peter would do the same for me.”