Egyptian president pressed to deport Al Jazeera journalist
Peter Greste’s family are calling on the Egyptian President to send him home.
PRETORIA - The family of Australian journalist Peter Greste who's been jailed in Egypt for supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood are pressing President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to deport him.
Egypt's higher court has ordered a retrial for Greste and two Al Jazeera colleagues jailed last June for seven to ten years.
Peter Greste's family in Australia say last November the Egyptian President said he would have deported the journalist rather than put him on trial.
Now that Greste is no longer a convicted criminal but an awaiting trial prisoner they're calling on the Egyptian leader to make good on this.
Greste and his colleagues insist they were merely doing their jobs.
Al Jazeera is Qatari owned and that Gulf state is seen by Egyptian authorities as supporting the Muslim Brotherhood that it overthrew in 2013 and then proscribed as a terrorist organisation.
The original trial had been condemned by human rights groups and Western governments and prompted the United Nations to question Egypt's judicial independence.
The reporters' imprisonment has been a thorny issue for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he seeks to prove his commitment to democratic reforms.
"Now that Peter is essentially an innocent man, he's not convicted any more, it does allow for some room to move and for him (Sisi) to step in ... and deport him," Greste's brother Andrew told reporters in Brisbane.
Defence attorneys said earlier in Cairo that new proceedings could begin within a month.
Despite the widespread criticism of the case, Sisi has cited the independence of the judiciary. However, he said in November he would have preferred to have deported Greste had he been in power when the journalists were arrested in December 2013.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the law in Egypt had change since Greste and his colleagues were arrested.
"There are more avenues, more options for Peter Greste, his family and his legal team to pursue," she said.
Andrew Greste said the family was hopeful but said new laws had not yet been tested.
"It's a new decree and there's very little understood about it, there's very little regulation, there's no precedent," he said. "I'd like to think the decree was enacted to be used."
The journalists have maintained they were simply reporting the news. Qatar-based Al Jazeera reiterated that position on Thursday.
Andrew Greste said the family had not yet spoken to his brother, who did not appear in court on Thursday. Peter Greste remains in Cairo's tough Tora prison, where the three men have been held for more than a year.