Egypt: Al Jazeera journalists released from prison
Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed freed on bail after spending more than a year in Egyptian jail
Two Al Jazeera journalists have been released on bail in Egypt after spending more than a year in prison on "absurd" terror-related charges.
The broadcaster's Canadian-Egyptian bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were arrested following the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. They will now face a retrial after an appeals court ruling in January.
The men were initially charged with supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news, claims Al Jazeera continues to dismiss as politically motivated. They were sentenced to between seven and ten years in prison.
The decision comes just over a week after their Australian colleague Peter Greste was freed and deported to Australia where he has been championing their release.
The move was welcomed by Al Jazeera, but it warned that there was still a long way to go in securing their freedom. "Bail is a small step in the right direction, and allows Baher and Mohamed to spend time with their families after 411 days apart," said a spokesperson.
"The focus though is still on the court reaching the correct verdict at the next hearing by dismissing this absurd case and releasing both these fine journalists unconditionally," he said.
Fahmy has been ordered to pay a £21,000 bail bond, as he is considered a flight risk, while Mohamed was not required to hand over a fee.
Marwa Omara, Fahmy's fiancée said: "We’re willing to pay whatever it takes to see Mohamed … I want to see him with me. I want to have a romantic dinner with him. Go to the beach. Dance, enjoy life."
Fahmy relinquished his Egyptian citizenship in an attempt to qualify for deportation to Canada, but Mohamed does not have a foreign passport. The decision was delayed, but "now appears to have been ruled out completely," according to The Guardian.
The case has drawn worldwide condemnation, with the Doha- based broadcaster fighting alongside international government to secure their release. There are at least 10 other journalists still imprisoned in Egypt, including the photographer Mahmoud Abouzeid, who is one of 16,000 political prisoners.
Their retrial will begin on February 23 in Cairo.