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Freed Jazeera journalists conflict-hardened veterans

September 23, 2015

The two journalists for Al-Jazeera television’s English-language channel pardoned by Egypt’s president Wednesday after being jailed for broadcasting false news are conflict-hardened veteran correspondents.

Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were released from jail Wednesday after being convicted in a retrial last month and sentenced to three years, along with Australian reporter Peter Greste, who was already deported back in February.

– Mohamed Fahmy –

Fahmy had only been named head of Al-Jazeera’s Cairo office in September 2013, three months before his arrest.

Born in Cairo, his parents emigrated to Canada in 1991 and settled in Quebec.

With the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, he worked as an interpreter for the Los Angeles Times, and he wrote “An Interpreter’s Chronicles of the Iraq War” a year later.

He went on to work for Gulf television stations and then the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In 2011, CNN employed him to cover the Arab Spring revolt in Egypt, which toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

Al-Jazeera gave him the chance to settle in the city of his birth with fiancee Marwa Omra. In July, they announced that they had married.

Fahmy had dropped his Egyptian citizenship to qualify for deportation like Greste, but Omra said after his release that “he wants to pursue getting his nationality back”.

– Baher Mohamed –

Mohamed covered the Arab Spring revolts in Libya, Yemen and Egypt.

He had worked as a freelancer for a Japanese publication before joining Al-Jazeera in mid-2013.

He has three sons, the youngest of whom was born while he was behind bars.

“Baher was always in the thick of all the violence in Egypt… He always wanted to relay the truth himself, rather than rely on other sources,” his brother Assem said.

Mohamed’s family had feared he would be left in the cold, without the possibility of being deported to avoid prison.

“We’re paying the price for being Egyptian,” his embittered wife Jihan Rashid said back in February. “The Egyptian media doesn’t mention him and is unconcerned about his fate.”

Rashid said her husband flatly rejected obtaining another nationality.

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