Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pardoned scores of prisoners along with two Al Jazeera journalists on Wednesday.
President Sisi announced on his facebook page that he would release “100 young people trapped in issues related to the breach of the law on demonstrations and some humanitarian and health cases.”
Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera expressed delight as the journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed walked free from an Egyptian jail. The freed journalists were sentenced to three years in prison last month after a retrial on 29 August. Their decree of punishment caused as an outrage among the international media networks and human rights organizations.
“We’re delighted for them both and their families. It is hard to celebrate though as this whole episode should not have happened in the first place. They’ve lost nearly two years of their lives when they were guilty of nothing except journalism,” said Al Jazeera’s director general Mostefa Souag after Wednesday’s decision.
Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian reporter, described the whole episode as nightmare. He expressed his determination to continue fighting for press freedom.
The move comes ahead of the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha and a day before President Sisi travels to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly.
Al Jazeera journalists were accused for broadcasting false news and collaborating with the outlawed group Muslim Brotherhood after the overthrow of President Morsi by the military in 2013.
However, the journalists denied the allegation and said they were simply reporting the news. Legal experts said the charges were unfounded and politically motivated.
The case against Al Jazeera journalists began in December 2013, when they were taken into custody during the police raid at Al Jazeera English bureau in Cairo. IMAGE/ Reuters