Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian journalist for Al Jazeera English, was pardoned by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi today, along with his Egyptian colleague Baher Mohamed. The journalists were among the 100 prisoners ordered released from Egyptian prison later today under the order.
Fahmy and Mohamed, along with their Al Jazeera colleague Peter Greste, were sentenced to three years in prison by an Egyptian court last month on charges of "aiding a terrorist organization." Greste was deported to his native Australia in February this year but is still under threat if his conviction stands. It is still unclear if Greste is included in the pardon. From The Associated Press:
The two were pardoned and were expected to be released on Wednesday. The state-run MENA news agency said a third person from the case - which included multiple other defendants along with Australian journalist Peter Greste - was also pardoned but was not identified by name.
The journalists were arrested in December 2013 on charges of "spreading false news" and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that held power in Egypt until a military coup in 2013 overthrew the government and outlawed them.
Today's pardon also includes human rights advocates Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif, activists who were arrested during peaceful protests last year under a law that requires police authorization for protests, SBS reports.
The Egyptian president released a statement regarding the pardons today:
Sisi's government has been criticized by international human rights groups for trying to control press coverage by issuing "guidelines" like these to foreign reporters:
Human Rights Watch has condemned new anti-terrorism laws which make it illegal to contradict official accounts of terrorist activity, and the Committee to Protect Journalists released a report in June saying that the number of journalists in prison in Egypt is at an all-time high.
The government, meanwhile, launched its own blog last month aimed at correcting "inaccurate reports" from foreign media, which they say portray Egypt in an unfair light.