The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA), in conjunction with Al Jazeera English, is pleased to announce the return to Nairobi of award-winning journalist Peter Greste, who was based in the city before being arrested in Egypt almost two years.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA), in conjunction with Al Jazeera English, is pleased to announce the return to Nairobi of award-winning journalist Peter Greste, who was based in the city before being arrested in Egypt almost two years ago.
Australian-born Greste was deported from Egypt in February this year after 400 days in prison, under the terms of a presidential decree, but is yet to clear his name of any wrongdoing. He had travelled to Egypt from Kenya in December 2013 to provide short-term cover and was subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison in a trial that was condemned internationally.
In September, the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pardoned Greste’s Al Jazeera colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who were arrested with Greste in December 2013. The trio were falsely accused of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and of reporting news that was “damaging to national security”.
“Peter’s triumphant return to Nairobi is significant as the homecoming of our friend and colleague, and also because the FCAEA was a catalyst of the #FreeAJStaff campaign that drew international attention to the Al Jazeera journalists’ plight,” said Ilya Gridneff, chairman of the FCAEA.
After the arrest of the three Al Jazeera English journalists, the FCAEA elected Peter Greste as its chairman in a show of solidarity with a friend, colleague and mentor to many in the region. The FCAEA organised protests, including outside the Egyptian embassy in Nairobi, and even ambushed the Egyptian Foreign Minister while he attended a UN environment conference in Kenya this January.
“The FCAEA is proud of its efforts that started humbly in Nairobi and grew into a worldwide campaign. It shows how little things grow and that grassroots campaigns can make a difference,” said Gridneff.
Greste won a Peabody Award in 2011 for his BBC Panorama documentary on Somalia, one of the industry’s highest achievements. He has worked across the world for leading international media outlets, including Reuters, BBC and CNN, and prior to his arrest had been based in sub-Saharan Africa – and specifically Kenya – for nearly a decade.
In 2014, Australia’s Walkley Foundation awarded Greste the Walkley Award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, one of the country’s highest media honours, in recognition of his journalism and his “defiant defence of its universal purpose”.
While the release of the Al Jazeera English reporters imprisoned in Egypt was a win for media freedom, it was also a stark reminder that hundreds of other journalists remain languishing in jails around the world for simply doing their job.
“Let’s remain vigilant and keep the fight alive. Journalism is not a crime,” said Gridneff.