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Egypt’s Sisi pardons two Jazeera journalists: presidency

September 23, 2015

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday pardoned the jailed Canadian journalist with Al-Jazeera television, Mohamed Fahmy, and his colleague Baher Mohamed, along with 100 prisoners, the presidency and official media reported.

Presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef told AFP the two Al-Jazeera colleagues were among the pardoned group, which also included women activists Sana Seif and Yara Sallam.

Fahmy and Mohamed were sentenced in a retrial to three years in August for allegedly fabricating “false” news in support of the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood movement, which the army removed from power in 2013.

Australian reporter Peter Greste was also convicted in the retrial, although he had been earlier deported through a presidential decree.

Their detention and trial sparked global criticism towards Sisi, who has said he wished the journalists had been deported from the outset rather than put on trial.

Their arrest in December 2013 came at a time of heightened unrest and a deadly crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood following Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow by the military.

At the time, Qatar, which owns Al-Jazeera, had been supportive of the Islamists.

The pardons on Wednesday came on the eve of the Muslim holidays of Eid, when prisoner releases often take place in Muslim countries.

Fahmy, who had dropped his Egyptian citizenship to qualify for deportation, is expected to leave for Canada once he is freed.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.