File photo: Mohamed Fahmy (L) with Amal Clooney (C) in a Cairo court in August 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy's lawyer Amal Clooney said on Monday that her client's presidential pardon from a three-year prison sentence "gives us hope that things can change in Egypt."
Fahmy, who was charged with spreading false news during and following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi's ouster in 2013 among other charges, was released from custody in September.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour Clooney called Fahmy's pardon "a relief" as he "could have been stuck in a spiral of appeals within the court system".
She said the release also gives hope that "media can be free to report on what's happening there". Some experts have suggested that press freedom in Egypt has been severely limited since the current regime came to power in 2013.
Fahmy's pardon was part of a large presidential pardon of 100 detainees, mainly activists. It included Fahmy's Al-Jazeera colleague Baher Mohamed. The pardon came ahead of El-Sisi's visit to New York, where he attended the United Nations' 70th General Assembly.
According to Fahmy, she has been in "almost daily contact with either [Fahmy] or a member of his family."
"His brother told me the first phone call he made was to me," Clooney added.
Fahmy, whose initial arrest was in December 2013, holds dual Egyptian-Canadian nationality but gave up his Egyptian nationality in a futile effort to get deported.
Amal Clooney, née Alamuddin, is an internationally renowned lawyer known for bringing to her cases, on top of her professional abilities, the media spotlight . She has a celebrity husband called George Clooney.
Amal Clooney is currently defending the Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, working on his release from arbitrary detention. She is also involved in efforts to secure international recognition of the Armenian genocide.