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Freed journalist Peter Greste feels 'incredible angst' over imprisoned colleagues

Freed journalist Peter Greste feels 'incredible angst' over imprisoned colleagues
Australian journalist Peter Greste speaks during an interview a day after his release from prison in Egypt. (Associated Press)

Peter Greste, an Australian journalist who was freed over the weekend after more than a year in an Egyptian prison, said Monday he's overwhelmed by "incredible angst" over two of his colleagues who remain jailed.

"Amidst all this relief, I still feel a sense of concern and worry. If it's appropriate for me to be free, it's right for all of them to be freed," Greste, who works for Al Jazeera, told the network in his first interview since being released.

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Two of his colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, remain imprisoned in Egypt.

"I feel incredible angst about my colleagues, leaving them behind," Greste said of the two men.

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Greste was imprisoned on allegations by Egyptian officials that he and his colleagues reported false news in a conspiracy with the Muslim Brotherhood to destabilize the country.

Greste was freed Sunday and immediately deported, boarding a flight to Cyprus.

The case came amid a wide-ranging crackdown by authorities that has imperiled many basic liberties and resulted in the jailing of more than 40,000 people. The erratic court proceedings were widely viewed as an embarrassment to Egypt.

"When you spend 400 days in such close proximity with people, you get to know them really well. It was a really difficult moment walking out and leaving the prison, saying goodbye to those guys, not knowing how much longer they will have to put up with this," Greste said in the interview.

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At a news conference Monday in Brisbane, Greste's parents expressed relief at their son's freedom.

"I'm ecstatic," said Lois Greste, Australia's "Ten Eyewitness News" reported. "I just can't express how happy I am about it all."

Times staff writer Laura King in Cairo contributed to this report. 

Follow @kurtisalee and email kurtis.lee@latimes.com

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