Egypt court releases Al Jazeera journalists on bail

Imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists. L-R: Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste

An Egyptian court has ordered the release of detained Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy on bail.

The retrial was ordered by the country’s Court of Cassation last month, overturning a lower court’s verdict that had found them guilty of helping the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

“Bail is a small step in the right direction, and allows Baher and Mohamed to spend time with their families after 411 days apart,” an Al Jazeera spokesman said on Thursday.

“The focus though is still on the court reaching the correct verdict at the next hearing by dismissing this absurd case and releasing both these fine journalists unconditionally.”

Judge Hassan Farid said the next hearing would be on February 23.

A third Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, who was also to be retried, was deported on February 1 under a presidential decree after spending 400 days in prison. He has since returned to his home in Australia.

The three journalists, along with seven colleagues outside the country, were accused of spreading “false news” during their coverage of demonstrations protesting a military toppling of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed were given sentences of between seven and 10 years.

In a bid to secure his own release, Fahmy renounced his Egyptian citizenship so that he could be deported to Canada, where he is also a citizen.

The journalists have repeatedly protested their innocence, saying that they were punished for doing their jobs.

Adel Fahmy, brother of Mohamed Fahmy, welcomed the court decision saying his brother “is being vindicated.”

“He is being vindicated by this, and will be completely vindicated later on when this case all falls apart completely,” he said.

Mohamed Fahmy’s fiance, Marwa Omara, also thanked the court “for doing the right thing.”

SOURCE: Al-Jazeera We have their permission to republish

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