New York, September 23, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the presidential pardon today of Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who have been in prison since they were sentenced in a retrial on charges including “aiding a terrorist organization.” Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi pardoned 100 prisoners today, on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Adha, as he prepares to travel to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly next week.
“We are heartened by the news that Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed will be freed after almost 21 months of politicized trials,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “But this is just a first step. Egypt can begin tackling its shameful record of press freedom by releasing all journalists imprisoned for their work in the country.”
Another Al-Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, who was retried in absentia, was also sentenced to three years in prison. He was deported to Australia in February. It is unclear if his name is on the list of individuals pardoned by Sisi. Egypt is holding at least 18 other journalists in jail because of their work. Among them is freelance photographer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, also known as Shawkan, whose detention since August 2013 has exceeded the two-year legal limit on pretrial detention, according to his lawyer. His trial has been scheduled for December 12.
- For data and analysis on Egypt, visit CPJ’s Egypt page.