WATCH ABOVE: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told journalists in Sydney that reporter Peter Greste had been released unconditionally from jail in Cairo.
CAIRO – Al-Jazeera English reporter Peter Greste left Egypt on Sunday after the president approved his deportation. Colleagues Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed remain jailed.
After Greste’s release Global News spoke with an Egyptian official who said Fahmy would be released soon. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
UPDATE: Security officials say that jailed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy expected to be released “within days” pic.twitter广州桑拿网/aoboCDlokd
— Conflict News (@rConflictNews) February 1, 2015
On Monday, Amal Clooney, who represents the Fahmy family, applauded the release of Greste.
“I have been in touch with the Fahmy family and we are all delighted that Peter Greste has been released. As Mr Fahmy’s counsel we are doing all we can to ensure the same outcome for Mr Fahmy, who has suffered the same injustice.” Clooney said in a statement.
Later Sunday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird spoke with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry.
In a statement released by Baird’s office, he “welcomed today’s positive development, and noted that he remained hopeful that Mr. Fahmy’s case will be resolved in short order. He thanked Foreign Minister Shoukry for his continued friendship to Canada.”
READ MORE: Timeline: Egypt’s jailing of 3 Al-Jazeera English journalists
Greste was released after more than a year behind bars in a case that was widely condemned by rights groups.
A Cairo airport official said Greste, an Australian national, boarded an EgyptAir flight to Larnaca, Cyprus that took off shortly after 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Sunday.
An Egyptian prison official and the nation’s official news agency said Greste was released following a presidential “approval.” The official and an Interior Ministry statement said his release was an implementation of the new deportation law passed last year. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Al Jazeera welcomes the news of @PeterGreste‘s release and demands the release of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. #FreeAJStaff
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 1, 2015
Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed were sentenced to at least seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges last year in a trial described as a sham by rights groups.
READ MORE: Mother pleads for Mohamed Fahmy release in ‘open letter’ to Egypt president
The release of Greste, 49, who also holds Latvian nationality, was welcomed by Al-Jazeera and Amnesty International, but both said the fate of the other journalists must not be forgotten.
Acting Al-Jazeera Director General Mostefa Souag says the Qatar-based network “will not rest until Baher and Mohamed also regain their freedom.”
WATCH: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Greste had been “released unconditionally from jail in Cairo and he has departed from Egypt.”
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, welcomed the news of Greste’s release but said “nothing can make up for his ordeal.”
READ MORE: Guarded optimism over possible pardon for Mohamed Fahmy
“It is vital that in the celebratory fanfare surrounding his deportation the world does not forget the continuing ordeal of Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, who remain behind bars at Tora prison in Cairo.”
A statement issued by the Canadian government said: “‘We welcome these positive developments. We remain very hopeful that Mr. Fahmy’s case will be resolved shortly.”
“We welcome these positive developments…” Office of Min of State Foreign Affairs re: Greste release PIC #cdnpoli pic.twitter广州桑拿网/YK2QOiBmkK
— Vassy Kapelos (@VassyKapelos) February 1, 2015
Fahmy’s fiancee, Marwa Omara, told Reuters she was hopeful he would be released soon and deported to Canada.
“His deportation is in its final stages. We are hopeful,” Marwa Omara said.
The three were arrested over their coverage of the violent crackdown on Islamist protests following the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Egyptian authorities accused them of providing a platform for Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, now declared a terrorist organization.
The three were also convicted for spreading false information, faking reports to show that the country was on the verge of civil war, and for aiding the Brotherhood’s goal of portraying Egypt as a failed state. Mohammed received an additional three years for his possession of a spent bullet. Three other foreign reporters received a 10-year sentence in absentia. Twelve other co-defendants were sentenced to between seven and ten years, some of them in absentia.
Rights groups and several media outlets condemned the verdicts as political, saying the three were doing their job during a tumultuous time.
According to a law passed late last year, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has the power to deport foreign defendants or convicts if it’s considered to be in the interest of national security. The law was seen as providing a potential legal instrument with which to free the journalists.
El-Sissi had repeatedly said he wants to end the case, which has prompted a storm of international criticism.
Greste had only been in Egypt for weeks, working on a short relief for his colleagues, when he was detained.
– with files from and Global News