Two Al Jazeera journalists who were still jailed in Egypt on charges of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood have been freed after more than 400 days behind bars, but a Cairo court said charges against them are still in place.
Mohamed Fahmy, formerly a dual Canadian/Egyptian who was forced to give up his Egyptian citizenship to obtain his freedom, was released on bail Thursday. Baher Mohamed, who has only Egyptian citizenship, was instead released without bail. The judge has ruled that the next hearing in their case will be on Feb. 23.
Their release follows the release, on Feb. 1, of Australian journalist Peter Greste, their Al Jazeera English colleague.
Al-Jazeera welcomed the expected good news, but asked that Egypt’s judiciary clear the reporters of what are considered to be trumped up charges.
“Bail is a small step in the right direction, and allows Baher and Mohamed to spend time with their families after 411 days apart,” read an Al Jazeera statement. “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,” it went on to note.
The December 2013 verdicts against the Al Jazeera journalists were widely considered to be prompted by the fact that they had become political pawns in growing tensions between Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera and Egypt. Qatar had developed ties to Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, before Morsi was ousted by the country’s current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in a military takeover in July 2013.