The reporters were slapped with jail terms earlier this month for alleged links to Muslim Brotherhood and ‘spreading false news’
UPDATES WITH PARDON OF SECOND JOURNALIST
CAIRO – Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday pardoned two Al Jazeera journalists who had been slapped with jail terms earlier this month for “spreading false news”.
Mohamed Fahmi and Baher Mohamed were both pardoned by a presidential decree, along with scores of other activists jailed for violating Egypt’s anti-protest law.
Fahmi – a Canadian national who has renounced his Egyptian citizenship – and Mohamed were both slapped with three-year jail terms earlier this month after being convicted of “spreading false news” and having links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.
A third Al Jazeera reporter – Australian Peter Greste, who was deported to his home country in January – was also sentenced to three years in jail on a similar raft of charges.
Mohamed was given an additional six months – and slapped with a monetary fine – for having been found in possession of “a spent bullet casing”.
The three reporters were originally detained in Cairo in 2013 shortly after the Egyptian authorities branded the Brotherhood – the group from which former President Mohamed Morsi hails – a “terrorist” organization.
A number of western governments and rights groups had called for the journalists’ release amid an international solidarity campaign led by Al Jazeera.
The Egyptian government accuses Qatar-based Al Jazeera of harboring bias in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood – an allegation the channel denies.
For the last two years, relations between Cairo and Doha have been tense due to the latter’s criticisms of Morsi’s ouster by the military in mid-2013.