Egypt court releases two Al Jazeera journalists but case not dismissed

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 12, 2015 6:37 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Two remaining Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were released from an Egyptian jail on Thursday after more than 400 days, but the court said the case against them was still pending.

Fahmy, who is a naturalized Canadian citizen who gave up his Egyptian citizenship, was released on bail of 250,000 Egyptian pounds ($32,765). Mohamed, who has only Egyptian citizenship, was released without bail. Judge Hassan Farid said the next hearing would be on Feb. 23.

Fahmy and Mohamed had been sentenced to seven and 10 years in jail respectively last year on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organization -- a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

A third Al Jazeera reporter, Australian Peter Greste, was sentenced with them, but was freed on Feb. 1 and deported.

The courtroom erupted in applause after the judge read his decision, delivered after a brief recess.

Fahmy's fiancee, Marwa Omara, weeping and hugging journalists in the courtroom, said: "Thank you Egypt for doing the right thing ... I am happy. For the last year I haven't been able to sleep."

Mohamed said on his Twitter account, @Bahrooz: "I AM FREE"

Egyptian authorities accuse Qatar-based Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece of the Brotherhood -- the movement the army removed from power in 2013. Al Jazeera denies the allegations.

The imprisonment of the journalists increased international concerns about the state of human rights under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief. His critics accuse him of rolling back freedoms gained after the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. ($1 = 7.6300 Egyptian pounds)

(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Michael Georgy and Robin Pomeroy)