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Today, a loving family is finally reunited.

Peter Greste is back on Australian soil today.

The journalist — a bright, curious, 49-year-old guy who grew up by the peaceful Lane Cove River National Park near Sydney — was released “unconditionally” from an Egyptian jail after more than 13 months on Monday.

As a lover of the outdoors, the Al Jazeera journalist has been “desperate” to return to his native Australia and to lie on the beaches where he grew up– and now, three days after his release, he’s home.

He’s bloody home.

Peter Greste is kissed by his mother Lois (L) and father Juris (R) upon his arrival at Brisbane's international airport in the early hours of February 5, 2015. (Photo: PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP/Getty Images)
“Peter Greste is home. He’s bloody home.” (Photo: Getty Images)

What Peter endured, simply for doing his job, is unthinkable.

He was incarcerated for 400 days. Falsely convicted of “defaming Egypt” and colluding with outlawed Islamists; government shorthand for “exercising his right to free speech” in a state that refuses to tolerate criticism.

He languished in a cold cell — sometimes for 24 hours a day — in Tora prison, notorious for guards’ severe beating of inmates.

Explainer: Peter Greste, Egypt, and freedom of the press 

And finally, he’s touched down on Australian soil and met with a hero’s welcome.

Peter Greste (C) greets his supporters and the media after landing back in Australia at Brisbane Airport (Photo: Robert Shakespeare/Getty Images)
Greste greets his supporters and the media after landing back in Australia at Brisbane Airport (Photo: Robert Shakespeare/Getty Images)
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As well as being a triumph for freedom of the press, and a huge diplomatic achievement for Australia, Peter’s release means so much more to the people who love him.

Because today is a day for his loving, family. A family who will be reunited with the son they love.

Related content: Finally, Peter Greste has been freed.

“Imagine the hell – the pure hell – of the little boy you’d loved locked up in a dark cell, away from the people who know and care about him.”

I met Greste’s mum, Lois, at an event last year. I paid my respects to her on my way out, telling her how many of my journalist friends are hoping and praying and campaigning for her son’s release. She was so small, I leaned down to see her eye-to-eye as I said the words.

Lois placed her small, warm hand on my forearm — skin as papery as my nanna’s — and held it there maternally for 10 or 15 seconds, while she thanked me, looking me in the eye. She was lovely, lovely, lovely — and she had a deep sadness lurking behind her appreciative smile.

On the way out, I realised my skin was goosebumped from the thought of being in her position.

“Imagine trying for an appeal. The appeal failing. Countless false reports of a possible release, ending each time in a thudding disappointment.”

Imagine it. Imagine the horror of watching the footage of Peter’s sentencing last year — your son’s disbelieving, stunned face framed by the bars of the cage as he was told he wouldn’t be released for seven years.

Imagine the hell — the pure hell — of the little boy you’d loved and fed and raised to say “please” and “thank you”, locked up in a dark cell, away from the people who know and care about him.

“Today marks a victory for free speech, of international law, and respect for human rights. But at its very core? Today marks the reunion of a broken family.”

Imagine trying for an appeal. The appeal failing. Countless false reports of a possible release, ending each time in a thudding disappointment.

And not knowing, never really knowing, exactly how he was being treated so many miles away across the ocean — was he beaten? Was he left unfed? Was he, God forbid, tortured? (Thankfully, he hasn’t suggested as much.)

 Related content: Peter Greste has been sentenced.

Many questions still have to be answered about exactly what happened to Peter Greste inside Tora prison.

But today is a happy day. Because today, Peter Greste is home.

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Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste punches the air upon his arrival at Brisbane's international airport in the early hours of February 5, 2015.  (Photo: PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP/Getty Images)
But today is a happy day. Because today, Peter Greste is home.. (Photo: Getty Images)

Today marks a victory for free speech, for international law, and for respect for human rights.

But at its very core? Today marks the reunion of a broken family. A mum who will see her boy again.

A mum who, this morning, got the chance to turn her face upwards towards her son, feel a tear prickle her eyes, wrap her warm, papery-skinned arms around her very own flesh and blood and whisper in Peter’s ear: “You are free, you’re safe, you’re with me”.

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