Freed Reporter Calls for Egypt to Free 'Brothers' Still in Jail

PHOTO: In this Monday, March 31, 2014 file photo, Al-Jazeera English correspondent Peter Greste, appears in court along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges, in Cairo, Egypt. PlayHeba Elkholy, El Shorouk/AP Photo
WATCH Australian al-Jazeera Reporter Freed, Deported from Egypt

In his first public comments since being freed, Al Jazeera English reporter Peter Greste briefly reflected on his 400 days locked up in Egyptian prisons and called for his producer and cameraman to be released immediately.

The Australian journalist was deported from Egypt unexpectedly Sunday night, but his producer, Mohamed Fahmy, and cameraman, Bahar Mohamed, both Al Jazeera English employees, remain behind bars at Egypt's Tora prison.

"If it's right for me to be free, it's right for all of them to be free," Greste told Al Jazeera English from the island nation of Cyprus. "They're my brothers. ... They're my family."

The three were arrested together in December 2013 and faced charges including spreading false news and collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood -- charges they have consistently denied.

Greste said his release represents "a big step forward for Egypt," and he urged the government to release his colleagues and peers still imprisoned.

According to the Committee to Project Journalists, Egypt is the sixth leading jailer of journalists in the world, with 12 imprisoned when CPJ last conducted its annual prison census in December 2014.

Greste was in the prison yard Sunday getting exercise, he recalled, when a prison warden abruptly told him to "pack up his stuff." Unconvinced, he said, after so many "false alarms," he didn't believe he was being released until he was seated on the plane next to his brother, Mike.

He expressed gratitude to the international journalism community -- a normally "cantankerous bunch," he quipped -- for rallying around the global campaign for his release, widely popularized using the hashtag #FreeAJStaff.

With his family eagerly awaiting his return home to Australia, Greste said he's looking forward to the little things, "watching a few sunsets ... watching the stars ... and feeling the sand under my toes."