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Presidential pardon for Al Jazeera journalists jailed on "terrorism" charge
September 24, 2015Reporters Without Borders welcomes todays presidential pardon for Al Jazeera English journalists Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who had been imprisoned since late August after being convicted of working without permission, broadcasting "false news" and supporting "terrorism".
"The announced pardon is good news for the Al Jazeera journalists, who should never have been tried and jailed in the first place", said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Middle East and Maghreb desk.
"Their torment is now over even if they have not been acquitted but todays announcement will have not much impact on the desperate state of freedom of information in Egypt, where 20 journalists are still unjustly imprisoned in connection with their professional activities."
A presidential pardon for 100 people including Fahmy and Mohamed was announced today by presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef. It coincides with the Muslim festivity of Eid Al-Adha and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisis trip to New York for the 70th UN General Assembly.
After many postponements, Fahmy and Mohamed were given three-year jail terms at the hearing on 29 August that concluded their retrial. The court also imposed a three-year sentence on Peter Greste, a third Al Jazeera English journalist, who was tried in absentia after being deported in February.
The three journalists were originally arrested in December 2013 on charges of supporting a terrorist organization (the Muslim Brotherhood) and broadcasting "false news."
The military have had the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera in their sights ever since the 2011 uprising because it is seen as overly sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. It was declared a terrorist organization in December 2013.
With at least 20 journalists detained in connection with their work, Egypt is the worlds fourth biggest prison for media personnel (after China, Eritrea and Iran) and is ranked 158th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
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