13 Feb 2015

Egypt frees Al Jazeera journalists on bail

Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed leave prison in Egypt following their release on bail, after more than a year behind bars.

Judge Hassan Farid said the next hearing would be on 23 February. Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy was released on 250,000 Egyptian pound (£21,289) bail, while colleague Baher Mohamed was released with no bail.

Mr Mohamed, along with Australian Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian Mr Fahmy were sentenced last year to seven to 10 years on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organisation – a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. A month ago, a court ordered their retrial.

Mr Greste was freed at the beginning of February and deported.

Mr Fahmy’s brother tweeted that he had been let out early today after his £21,500 bail was posted.

In a statement, an Al Jazeera spokesman welcomed the move, but cautioned: “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.”

The fiancee of Mr Fahmy, Marwa Omara, thanked the Egyptian courts for “doing the right thing”:

Canadian Mr Fahmy, who recently renounced his Egyptian citizenship, is expected to be deported.

Amal Clooney, who is representing Mr Fahmy, said last night: “I am encouraged by the supreme court’s findings that the trial was unfair, and by today’s ruling granting Mr Fahmy bail.

“At the same time, there is no guarantee that a retrial will be carried out in compliance with international standards or result in the full acquittal on all charges that Fahmy deserves. It may also take several months to complete.”

There is no guarantee that a retrial will be carried out in compliance with international standards. Amal Clooney

She went on: “Mr Fahmy is a Canadian national who was subjected to the same unfair trial process as Mr Greste.

“Mr Fahmy was told by high-level Egyptian officials that, as a dual Egyptian-Canadian national, he must give up his Egyptian citizenship to guarantee a transfer.”

She called on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to personally intervene in the matter to ensure the Egyptian government “honours” its pledge to transfer him.