Peter Greste

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Peter Greste
Peter Greste 2015-01.jpg
Greste in 2015
Born (1965-12-01) 1 December 1965 (age 56)
Sydney, Australia[1]
NationalityLatvian Australian

Peter Greste (Latvian: Pēteris Greste; born 1 December 1965)[2] is an Australian journalist and correspondent, who holds dual citizenship of Australia and Latvia. He has worked as a correspondent for Reuters, CNN and the BBC, predominantly in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

On 29 December 2013, Greste and two other Al Jazeera English journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were arrested by Egyptian authorities.[3] On 23 June 2014, Greste was found guilty by the court, and sentenced to seven years of incarceration.[4]

On 1 February 2015, a month after a retrial of Greste, Fahmy and Mohammad was announced, Greste was deported and flown to Cyprus. His colleagues were released on bail on 12 February 2015.

Early life[edit]

Greste's ancestry is Latvian.[1] He was born in Sydney and has two younger brothers.[5] He is a dual citizen of Australia and Latvia.[6] He attended Indooroopilly State High School where he was school captain.[7] He graduated in journalism studies from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane.[5]

Early career[edit]

Greste with his Peabody Award for the documentary Somalia: Land of Anarchy.

From 1991 to 1995, Greste was based in London, Bosnia and South Africa, where he worked for Reuters, CNN, WTN and the BBC. In 1995, he was based in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was a correspondent for the BBC and Reuters, after which he was based in Belgrade for a year, where he was a correspondent for Reuters. He then returned to London, where he worked for BBC News 24. He was then based in Mexico, then Santiago, as a correspondent for the BBC.[8] He returned to Afghanistan in 2001 to cover the start of the war. After Afghanistan, he worked across the Middle East and Latin America. From 2004, he was based in Mombasa, Kenya, then Johannesburg, South Africa, followed by six years in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2011, he won a Peabody Award for a BBC documentary on Somalia. That year, he left the BBC to become a correspondent for Al Jazeera English in Africa.[9][10]

Egyptian trial and imprisonment[edit]

Greste was arrested in Cairo with colleagues at the end of December 2013. The interior ministry said the journalists were accused of news reporting which was "damaging to national security".[11] Greste was imprisoned in Egypt in solitary confinement for a month before any formal charges were made.[12] On 29 January, it emerged that the Egyptian authorities were to charge 20 Al Jazeera journalists, including Greste, of falsifying news and having a negative impact on overseas perceptions of the country.[13] His colleagues, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were also imprisoned; the three men were being held in the same cell in early February 2014.[14] The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the authorities in Egypt to "promptly release" the Al Jazeera staff they were holding in custody.[15]

On 21 February, Greste was refused bail and had his court case adjourned until 5 March.[16]

On 31 March, he and co-defendants Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed made a request to a judge during a hearing to be released.[3] During the hearing Greste told the judge: "The idea that I could have an association with the Muslim Brotherhood is frankly preposterous."[3]

On 23 June, Greste was found guilty by the court, and sentenced to seven years in prison. Mohammed Fahmy also received seven years and Baher Mohamed received a sentence of ten years in prison.[17] International reaction was swift and negative. US Secretary of State John Kerry was highly critical of the sentences of Greste and his co-workers, terming them "chilling and draconian" and noted he had spoken to Egyptian governmental officials including President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.[18] Al-Sisi however was unmoved. A day after the trial, and amidst the widespread international condemnation, the Egyptian president declared that he would not interfere with judicial rulings.[19]

Greste and his colleagues were seen internationally as political prisoners due to the nature of the trial, the lack of applicable evidence presented and the sentences.[20]

On 1 January 2015 the Court of Cassation announced a retrial for Greste and his colleagues. Release on bail was not permitted.[21] On 1 February, Greste was deported to Australia. The Egyptian law allowing the deportation of foreigners stipulates that they face prison or trial in their home country, but Australia is not likely to uphold Greste's conviction.[22] Otherwise, no explanation was given for his release.[23]

On 29 August 2015, an Egyptian court sentenced Peter Greste and his colleagues to another three years in prison, with Baher Mohamed being sentenced to an additional six months. Greste will avoid imprisonment because he was deported to Australia in February. He was tried in absentia.[24] Less than a month later, on 23 September 2015, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Greste received the news of his colleagues' release while filming a segment for the ABC Television show The Chaser's Media Circus, which is filmed in front of a live studio audience, and his reaction was caught on camera.[25] The episode was aired the following day. Host of the show Craig Reucassel did a disclaimer at the beginning of the episode, saying that because it was filmed previous to the revelation of the pardon, the show made no acknowledgement of it until the end.

Later career[edit]

He returned to Australia in February 2016[citation needed] to work as a freelance journalist, speaker and press freedom advocate. He presented a two-part TV documentary miniseries on Sir John Monash, Monash and Me, which was aired in Australia in 2018.[26] In February 2018, he took up a position at the University of Queensland as "UNESCO Chair in Journalism and Communications".[27] Along with lawyer Chris Flynn and journalist Peter Wilkinson, Greste founded the Alliance for Journalists' Freedom.[28]

In 2017, Greste wrote and directed Facebook: Cracking the Code, a documentary for Four Corners (Australian TV program), presented by Sarah Ferguson (journalist).[29][30][31][32][33]

In 2021, the State Library of Queensland commissioned an interview with Greste containing an oral history of his life, career and imprisonment.[34]


On 19 February 2015, Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed won a special Royal Television Society award for their sacrifices to journalism. Greste accepted the award in London for the three.[citation needed]

Greste has advocated widely for freedom of the press and free speech. In recognition of his efforts, he was awarded the 2015 Australian Human Rights Medal.[35]


In 2016, Penguin Books published Freeing Peter, by Andrew Greste, a biographical account of his family's efforts to free him from incarceration.[36]

In 2017, Greste's own book The First Casualty was published by Penguin Books. It reportedly contains a "first-hand account of how the war on journalism has spread from the battlefields of the Middle East to the governments of the West".[37] In this book Gresete shows how this war on journalism has spread to the West, not just in the murders at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo or the repressions of Putin's Russia, but Australia's metadata laws and Trump's phony war on 'fake news.[38]

It was shortlisted for the 2018 Walkley Book Award.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ojārs Greste (2010). "Austrālijas latvietis iesakņojies Āfrikā". Laikraksts Latvietis (in Latvian). Archived from the original on 3 January 2015.
  2. ^ Colvin, Mark (1 December 2014). "Peter Greste spends 49th birthday in Cairo prison". PM. ABC Radio. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Canadian journalist asks Egyptian judge to free him: 'I ask for acquittal'". Toronto Star. 30 April 2014. Archived from the original on 13 July 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Secretary Kerry: Prison sentences for Al Jazeera reporters 'deeply disturbing set-back' for Egypt". Big News Network. Archived from the original on 24 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  5. ^ a b Fletcher, Clare (12 April 2015). "Peter Greste – the man behind the headlines". The Walkley Foundation. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Peter Greste calls on Tony Abbott to speak out for imprisoned journalists". The Guardian. 6 March 2014. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  7. ^ Dalton, Trent (5 February 2015). "Peter Greste arrives back home". The Australian. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Dispatches – Peter Greste". The Digital Journalist. Archived from the original on 12 May 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Peter Greste: Biography". Crossing Continents. BBC News. 31 March 2009. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  10. ^ Listening Post. "Peter Greste – Al Jazeera Blogs". Archived from the original on 25 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Egypt crisis: Al-Jazeera journalists arrested in Cairo". BBC News. 30 December 2013. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015.
  12. ^ Peter Greste (25 January 2014). "Peter Greste's letters from Egyptian jail". Archived from the original on 3 March 2017.
  13. ^ Patrick Kingsley (29 January 2014). "Egypt to charge al-Jazeera journalists with damaging country's reputation". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016.
  14. ^ Paul Farrell (5 February 2014). "Peter Greste and two al-Jazeera colleagues moved to same cell". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  15. ^ "UN urges Egypt to release foreign journalists, including Peter Greste". The guardian. Australian Associated Press. 1 February 2014. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016.
  16. ^ "Egyptian court adjourns trial of Australian journalist Peter Greste". ABC News. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  17. ^ "Peter Greste trial: Al Jazeera journalist found guilty". ABC Online. Australia. 23 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Egypt trial: Outcry over al-Jazeera trio's sentencing". BBC News. 23 June 2014. Archived from the original on 23 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Egypt's president says will not interfere in judicial rulings". Reuters. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  20. ^ "Egypt's press freedom on retrial". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  21. ^ "Peter Greste: Appeals court in Egypt orders retrial in case of Australian journalist". Australian Broad Casting Corporation. 1 January 2015. Archived from the original on 1 January 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2015. An Egyptian appeals court has ordered a retrial in the case of Australian journalist Peter Greste and two of his Al Jazeera colleagues.
  22. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (February 2015). "Egypt Deports Peter Greste, Journalist Jailed with 2 al Jazeera Colleagues". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 December 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  23. ^ Greste released and deported Archived 1 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed sentenced to at least three years' jail". ABC News. 30 August 2015. Archived from the original on 4 December 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  25. ^ "Peter Greste receives news of al-Jazeera journalist's pardon – video". The Guardian. 23 September 2015. Archived from the original on 26 December 2016.
  26. ^ Monash and Me: Peter Greste on Australia's Great Commander. Artemis Media website, retrieved 22 November 2020
  27. ^ "Internationally acclaimed journalist appointed to UQ". UQ News. Archived from the original on 4 April 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  28. ^ Greste, Peter (12 April 2019). "Julian Assange is no journalist: don't confuse his arrest with press freedom". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  29. ^ James, Mathew R. (24 August 2017). "Cracking The Code". Medium. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  30. ^ Greste, Peter (13 April 2017). "Facebook: Cracking the Code". Apple TV. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  31. ^ "Facebook: Cracking the Code". mubi. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  32. ^ "Peter Greste: Datenkrake Facebook. Das Milliarden-Geschäft mit der Privatsphäre (ZDFinfo)". de:Medienkorrespondenz (in German). Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  33. ^ "Facebook: Cracking the Code - Trailer". YouTube. Journeyman Pictures. 18 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2021. {{cite web}}: External link in |quote= (help)
  34. ^ "Peter Greste in Conversation". State Library of Queensland. 2021. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  35. ^ "Peter Greste wins 2015 Human Rights Medal". Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  36. ^ "Freeing Peter by Andrew Greste". Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  37. ^ "The First Casualty by Peter Greste". Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  38. ^ "The First Casualty: a memoir from the front lines of Journalism". State Library Of Queensland One Search Catalogue. 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  39. ^ "2018 Walkley Book Award Shortlisted Finalists Announced". The Walkley Foundation. 7 November 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2018.

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