The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today welcomed the release on bail of Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, imprisoned in Egypt since December 2013. Their release follows that of Australian Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste, freed last week.
"We welcome the decision of the Egyptian court to release our colleagues from Al Jazeera and we urge it to drop the charges against them," said the IFJ's President Jim Boumelha. "Any democratic society cannot resort to legal intimidation to suppress independent reporting."
According to reports, the two journalists appeared before judge Hassan Farid at Cairo Criminal Court for the start of the retrial but the proceedings were adjourned until 23 February and the judge ordered that the two journalists be released. He set bail for Mohamed Fahmy at 250,000 Egyptian pounds ($33,000; £22,000), while Baher Mohamed was freed without bail.
Fahmy had given up his Egyptian citizenship to qualify for deportation to Canada after Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi signed a decree allowing repatriation of foreign prisoners last November, which permitted the release of Australian Peter Greste. Mohamed is an Egyptian national and has no foreign passport.
The three Al Jazeera journalists were arrested in December 2013 and were convicted of spreading false news, belonging to a terrorist organization and operating without a permit. Their convictions were overturned on appeal last month but they remained in custody pending a retrial.
The three journalists have strenuously denied the charges against them and stated that their trial was a sham.
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The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries