Greste Overjoyed By Release Of Al-Jazeera Colleagues

24/09/2015 6:14 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Canadian Al-Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy second left, and his Egyptian colleague Baher Mohammed, celebrate with their wives after being released from Torah prison in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Fahmy and his colleague Baher, were among a group of 100 people pardoned by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on the eve of the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The pardon also comes a day before the Egyptian leader is to travel to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Australian journalist Peter Greste has said he is "overjoyed" by the release of two Al-Jazeera colleagues who were pardoned by Egypt's president overnight, while his own status remains unclear.

Greste, who was jailed alongside Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed in 2013, said he and supporters had been concerned for their welfare while in jail.

"I'm absolutely overjoyed for Fahmy and Baher, (it's) absolutely fantastic news," Greste told Al-Jazeera.

"More than anything else, we've been concerned for their safety, we've been concerned for their wellbeing.

"There was never any reason for them to be in prison in the first place."

Greste told RN Breakfast he had spoken with both men.

"They are over the moon, they are with their families," he told host Fran Kelly.

The three journalists faced charges including aiding the now-banned Muslim brotherhood, which they strongly refuted.

They were sentenced to seven to 10 years, but the case was thrown out and a retrial ordered.

Earlier this year, Greste was deported to Australia, while Mohamed and Fahmy were released on bail.

Egypti's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pardoned 100 prisoners as a gesture on the eve of Muslim holiday Eid.

It follows a concerted international campaign to have the journalists released, which had the support of US President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

The pardon came just a day before al-Sisi was due to meet with international colleagues at the UN general assembly.

The pair was dropped in their prison garb outside a local high school.

Fahmy's wife Marwa Omara said she was visiting her husband in prison when she learned the news of his pardon.

"I was scared for his health from too much joy," she said, adding that the first thing they plan to do is have a large wedding party to celebrate their recent marriage.

Greste yesterday attended the opening of a tribute to war correspondents at the Australian War Memorial. He recently released a book of letters of support he had received while imprisoned, which he described to The Huffington Post.

It is unclear whether Greste, who was released and deported from Egypt, would also receive a formal pardon.

He told RN Breakfast today: "The last thing I want is a criminal record hanging over my head".

Greste was told the news while appearing live on ABC TV's The Chaser last night. A studio aide handed him a phone with the news.

Peter Greste gets word of the #FreeAJstaff pardons on set of T...

An amazing unexpected night on #mediacircus with Peter.Greste Malcolm Farr, Tory Shepherd, Stephen K Amos, Zoe Norton Lodge and Jules Morrow. Right at the end of the pre-record for tomorrow night's show ... after Pundemonium no less ... word reaches the floor of the #freeAJstaff pardons. This is how it happened ...

Posted by The Chaser on Wednesday, 23 September 2015

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