Speakers Profile - Peter Greste


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Peter Greste began his career in regional television news in his native Australia through the late 1980s. Inspired by One Crowded Hour, the biography of frontline cameraman Neil Davis, he left his job at the Ten Network in Adelaide in 1991, to follow his dream of becoming a foreign correspondent.

As a young freelance reporter, he covered the war in Yugoslavia in 1992-3, and South Africa’s first multi-party elections the following year. In 1995, the BBC and Reuters appointed him as their joint Kabul correspondent, covering the civil war and the emergence of the Taliban across Afghanistan for all the broadcaster’s radio and television outlets. For Reuters, he filed TV, photos and news reports.

In 1996, he moved back to Yugoslavia for Reuters before returning to the UK to work on the launch of the BBC’s 24-hour domestic TV news service, News 24. Three years later, he returned to reporting from the field as the BBC’s Central America correspondent based in Mexico City.

In 2001, the BBC recalled him to Afghanistan to be a part of the team covering the aftermath of 9/11 and the fall of the Taliban before he resumed his duties, this time reporting from across South America until 2003.

From there, he went to Kenya, working in eastern and southern Africa for the BBC, with a particular focus on ongoing crises in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. In 2011, he made a documentary on Somalia for the BBC’s Panorama program, dedicated to the memory of his producer Kate Payton who was shot and killed during a previous trip the two of them made in 2005.

Later in 2011, Peter left the BBC and joined Al Jazeera as its East Africa Correspondent. He went to Cairo to cover the Christmas/New Year period in 2013, and two weeks after he arrived, security agents burst into his hotel room and arrested him and his colleagues. He was charged with aiding a banned organization – the Muslim Brotherhood; financing a banned organization and broadcasting false news. The court convicted Peter and his colleagues, and sentenced them to between seven and ten years of hard labor.

While in prison, Peter began a masters degree in International Relations with Griffith University. Later in 2015, became an honorary doctor of the university, for his services to journalism.

In February 2015, Peter was deported on an order of the Egyptian president, though he was included in the subsequent retrial that began a month later. Peter and his colleagues were once again convicted in the retrial though with their sentences reduced to three years. Their case has been widely condemned as an abuse of due process and their fundamental human rights. Peter continues to campaign for freedom of the press and to support other journalists in prison. He is currently working on a book based on his experiences in Egypt and on the role of journalism in the War on Terror.

In April 2016 Peter was awarded the ANZAC Peace Prize.