News24

Egypt drops case against Aus journalist

2012-08-29 13:55

Sydney - Egypt has dropped its case against an Australian freelance journalist accused of inciting public unrest, Canberra's Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on Wednesday.

Austin Mackell, who was briefly detained in February and had his passport confiscated while the allegations were examined, will have the document and his equipment returned, Carr said.

"Our embassy has been advised that the matter has been dropped," he said in a statement. "This is great news for Austin and his family in Australia."

Carr, who last week met with Egypt's ambassador in Canberra Omar Metwally, thanked Cairo.

Mackell was first detained on February 11 in Mahalla, north of the Egyptian capital, along with a US student and their Egyptian translator and accused of "paying people to cause unrest".

They were picked up in the Nile delta city on the same day that activists held student strikes to mark the first anniversary of ex-president Hosni Mubarak's overthrow.

Mackell was released after two days but has been subject to travel bans while the investigation continued.

The Cairo-based reporter denied the claims, telling the ABC earlier this year that it was the "standard line" from authorities to claim that people who were protesting were being paid by foreign agents to do so.