Egypt court orders release of Al-Jazeera English journalists

World Today

Marwa Omara, the fiancee of Al-Jazeera English journalist Mohammed Fahmy, talks to journalists in a courthouse near Tora prison in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. Photo: AP

An Egyptian judge on Thursday ordered the release on bail of a pair of Al-Jazeera English journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, being retried on terror-related charges, bringing cheers from their families who have sought to get them out of detention for more than a year and are hoping for a resolution in the case.

“I didn’t sleep for the last year. I have to do things that I never was doing. It was very tough for me,” Fahmy’s Fiance Marwa Omara said. “I am a simple woman, not into politics. Suddenly, I found myself meeting officials, and doing things I never expected myself to do. Now I can just relax.”

CCTV’s Adel El-Mahrouky reported the story from Cairo.

Cairo court orders Al Jazeera journalists release on bail

An Egyptian judge on Thursday ordered the release on bail of a pair of Al-Jazeera English journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, being retried on terror-related charges, bringing cheers from their families who have sought to get them out of detention for more than a year and are hoping for a resolution in the case. CCTV's Adel El-Mahrouky reported the story from Cairo.

The prosecution of the journalists, who were convicted by a lower court after a trial widely dismissed as a sham, has brought heavy international criticism on Egypt. Two weeks earlier, a third defendant — Australian Peter Greste — was deported, a step widely seen as a signal that authorities want to find a face-saving way to end the controversy.

Co-defendant Fahmy is also seeking deportation. He renounced his Egyptian citizenship to be eligible for deportation to Canada, where he also holds citizenship.

“Honorable Judge, giving up my Egyptian citizenship was really hard. A senior security official came to me one and told me to give up my nationality so that both peter and I could be deported,” Fahmy said. “I refused at first, then another official spoke to me and told me the citizenship is not a piece of paper it’s in the heart. You can come visit as a tourist and then reapply for the citizenship.”

The judge on Thursday didn’t address the issue, instead ordering Fahmy to post the equivalent of $33,000 in bail. No other defendant was ordered to post bail. Judge Hassan Farid adjourned the trial until Feb. 23.

Mohammed holds no foreign citizenship and is not eligible for deportation.

Fahmy said he had been told by Canadian officials that his deportation was imminent. “We packed up our luggage. My fiancée quit. We booked tickets.” Attendees clapped after he finished his statement, and he raised an Egyptian flag in the courtroom. He said the official reassured him that he can always come back to Egypt to reapply for citizenship.

Lawyers said the judge said all defendants must report to their local police station every day and in a vague sentence said none were allowed to leave their hometown.

“Releasing the defendants came after media pressure from journalists and the world,” Defense Lawyer Shaaban Said said. ” Everyone was saying these people are innocent, they are journalists fulfilling their durites and were arrested. But it’s a good indicator that the court could find them innocent, after finding that there are no evidence that convicts the defendants.”

The journalists are due back in court on February 23.

All Al Jazeera journalists, with exception to Fahmy, are banned from leaving the country until a final verdict is reached. Fahmy’s lawyer Khaled Abu Bakr said it was not clear if this was an explicit decision against Fahmy leaving.

This story is compiled with information from The Associated Press.