Two al-Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt since December 2013 were released yesterday and have been reunited with their families. Baher Mohamed was released yesterday morning following a court order along with his colleague Mohamed Fahmy, who was required to pay a $33,000 bail.
Though both are Egyptian, Fahmy holds a Canadian passport, and renounced his Egyptian citizenship, Reuters reports. Photos and videos have surfaced online showing an exuberant Mohamed Fahmy vowing to continue the fight for journalistic freedom and insisting he was “proud of every moment spent in prison for the freedom of expression,” The Guardian reports.
The colleagues were jailed in December 2013 for allegedly disseminating false information and supporting a terrorist group, the banned Muslim Brotherhood. An exuberant tweet from Baher Mohamed set the Twitter-sphere ablaze early yesterday morning as proponents of journalistic freedom rejoiced at the victory.
I AM FREE — Baher Ghorab (@Bahrooz) February 12, 2015
The journalists’ Al-Jazeera colleague, Peter Greste, who was jailed along with them in December of 2013, replied jubilantly upon hearing the news, but was cautious not to declare the battle won.
— Peter Greste (@PeterGreste) February 12, 2015
Greste was released on February 1 under a new law that allows President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to deport detainees at any time during their prosecution, The Independentreports. He was promptly sent back to his native Australia.
According to BBC reports, the journalists were accused in December 2013 of reporting false information and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which was named a terrorist group by the Egyptian government in 2012. All three were given sentences of between seven and ten years. Since their arrests, the journalists have maintained they were “simply reporting the news,” and they continue to vehemently deny any involvement with the Brotherhood.
The former governing party of Egypt, the Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. With overwhelming public support, the party rose to power in May of 2012 after Mohamed Morsi was elected in the country’s first free presidential elections.
Despite overwhelming public support, Morsi was forced out of office barely a year after his election and replaced by Army Chief and current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Under his rule, the Muslim Brotherhood was banned from operating in Egypt. Suspected of orchestrating a 2012 bombing in Mansoura that killed 12 people, Al-Sisi finally deemed the Brotherhood a terrorist group in 2012.
According to Reuters, the case against the three al-Jazeera journalists is still pending. A hearing is scheduled for February 23.