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Al Jazeera journalists walk out of Egyptian prison: Families

Al Jazeera reporters Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed must appear in court again on 23 February for their retrial

Ayat Al-Tawy, Friday 13 Feb 2015
In this Monday, March 31, 2014 file photo, Al-Jazeera English producer Baher Mohamed, left, Canadian-Egyptian acting Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, right, appear in court along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges, in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

Two Al Jazeera journalists left prison on Friday, their families said, after spending over a year in jail in a case that has drawn global condemnation.

A Cairo court ordered Thursday the release of Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed on bail pending retrial on charges of spreading false news and a supporting a terrorist organisation, a reference to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Mohamed's wife, Gehan Mohamed, said her husband was released on Friday at around 7am.

"We are just overjoyed and are now celebrating with Baher," she told Ahram Online.

The duo must appear in court on February 23, for the next hearing in the retrial ordered last month when the Court of Cassation, Egypt's highest court, said the original conviction was based on insufficient evidenceThey were originally sentenced to between seven and ten years in jail.

"I have no expectations of what is going to happen, but I [feel] they will be out," she added about the trial.

Fahmy's brother Adel wrote on Twitter: "My brother has been released from the police station! I am going on holiday before they arrest him again!"

The case is believed to have stemmed from strained ties between Cairo and Doha, which funds the Qatar-based Al Jazeera and was one of the main supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.

Australian Peter Greste, a third Al Jazeera reporter who was convicted on the same charges, was freed on 1 February and deported in line with a law by decree last year allowing foreign convicts to be deported to their home countries to stand trial or serve out their sentences.

The trio was arrested in December 2013 and had been detained since. 

Fahmy, a naturalised Canadian who gave up his Egyptian citizenship earlier this month in hopes of securing deportation under the same law that saw Greste leave the country, was released on a bail of LE250,000 (approx. $33,000).

Mohamed, an Egyptian citizen, was released without bail.

Al Jazeera said in a statement that the court decision was "a small step in the right direction," emphasising that the network is seeking the dismissal of what it described as an "absurd case" and the unconditional release of journalists.

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