Egyptian authorities have agreed to allow an Australian freelance journalist to finally leave the Middle Eastern nation following more than six months of "hold departure order" imposed by Cairo.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Austin Mackell has been cleared to exit Egypt, with the country's government deciding not to pursue the charges of inciting public unrest against the Australian national.
"Our embassy has been advised that the matter has been dropped and Austin's passport and personal equipment will be returned," the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported Mr Carr as saying.
He called the development "great news for Austin and his family in Australia."
The foreign minister disclosed too that a week prior to Cairo's favourable decision, he had met with Egyptian Ambassador to Australia Omar Metwally, which he said greatly contributed to the lifting of travel ban out of Egypt imposed against Mr Mackell.
"I thank the Egyptian government for their willingness to resolve this matter, and particularly Ambassador Metwally for his support of Australia's consular interests." Mr Carr said.
He warned, however, that Mr Mackell's case should serve as a clear reminder for Australian nationals to carefully follow and observe the laws of foreign nations they are travelling in, stressing that his office "cannot interfere in another country's legal system."
"This case was addressed under Egyptian law, not Australian. We can make representations but we cannot order an Australian's release," the senator reminded.
Mr Mackell, along with a U.S. national and their Egyptian translator, were arrested and detained by Egyptian authorities February 11 this year, shortly after a protest action occurred in Mahalla, which is located north of Cairo.
Local authorities blamed Mr Mackell's group for the demonstration that day though international reports have suggested that the actions were in commemoration of the Egyptian revolution in early 2011, which led to the ouster of former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak.
The Australian was released from custody two days after his arrest but Cairo barred him from leaving Egypt pending the conclusion of the investigation for his case.
In an interview with ABC on February, Mr Mackell rejected the accusations brought against him by the Egyptian government, insisting that Cairo has resorted to such measures to downplay protest actions that were organised by local activists in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
While he was not physically harmed while in detention, the Aussie reporter claimed that Egyptian authorities had subjected him to mental intimidation by allowing him to hear noises from a next-door cell that sounded of detainees being tortured.
Also, an Egyptian police officer reportedly allowed Mr Mackell to view a short video of a military man inflicting harm on somebody, The Egypt Independent said on Tuesday.
He realised then that "as a foreigner my rights and the safety of my person is still more valued by the authorities than that of an Egyptian citizen."
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