Foreign Minister Bob Carr today welcomed a decision by Egyptian authorities to drop proceedings against Australian journalist Austin Mackell, who has been held in Egypt since February 11 this year on allegations of inciting public unrest.
Senator Carr said that the decision to drop the matter followed his meeting last week with Egypt’s Ambassador Mr Omar Metwally, as well as extensive consular efforts by Australian Embassy staff in Cairo and Canberra.
“This is great news for Austin and his family in Australia,” Senator Carr said.
“Our Embassy has been advised that the matter has been dropped and Austin’s passport and personal equipment will be returned.
“I thank the Egyptian Government for their willingness to resolve this matter, and particularly Ambassador Metwally for his support of Australia’s consular interests
“I also applaud our consular staff in Cairo and Canberra, who made 52 separate representations to Egyptian authorities on Austin’s behalf and kept in weekly contact with the Mackell family.”
Senator Carr said the Mackell case was a reminder to all Australians travelling overseas that they were subject to the laws of the country they were in.
“Our consular staff can assist with representations on due process, but we cannot interfere in another country’s legal system,” Senator Carr said.
“His case was addressed under Egyptian law, not Australian. We can make representations but we cannot order an Australian’s release.”
Mr Mackell was initially detained on February 11, 2012 in Mahalla, north of Cairo after being accused of ‘paying people to cause unrest.’ He was released on February 13 but was subject to travel bans while the allegations were examined.
Senator Carr raised Mr Mackell’s case with Egypt’s Ambassador Omar Metwally on August 20 in Canberra. Australia’s Embassy in Cairo was advised of the decision to dismiss proceedings against Mr Mackell overnight 28-29 August AEST.