Egypt Frees 2 Al Jazeera English Journalists on Bail

PHOTO: In this March 31, 2014 file photo, Baher Mohamed, left, and Mohammed Fahmy, right, appear in court along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges, in Cairo. PlayHeba Elkholy/AP Photo
WATCH Egypt Court Releases Journalists on Bail

Cheers erupted in a Cairo courtroom Thursday when a judge announced bail for the two Al Jazeera English journalists still imprisoned following the deportation two weeks ago of their Australian colleague, Peter Greste.

After 411 days behind bars, the Doha, Qatar-based channel's Egyptian cameraman, Baher Mohamed, and Canadian bureau chief, Mohamed Fahmy, are expected to spend tonight at home with their families.

Amal Clooney, counsel for Fahmy, said in a statement that she is "encouraged by the Supreme Court’s findings that the trial was unfair, and by today’s ruling granting Mr Fahmy bail. At the same time, there is no guarantee that a retrial will be carried out in compliance with international standards or result in the full acquittal on all charges that Fahmy deserves. It may also take several months to complete."

She added, "this case is not over yet; but it should be. Ten days ago Mohamed Fahmy and his family celebrated the return of Fahmy’s former colleague, Peter Greste, to Australia under the terms of a decree allowing foreign prisoners to be transferred to their home state. Mr Fahmy is eligible for transfer under this same law – and the retrial process that began today does not change that."

In a statement, an Al Jazeera English spokesman cautiously welcomed the decision: “Bail is a small step in the right direction, and allows Baher and Mohamed to spend time with their families after 411 days apart. The focus though is still on the court reaching the correct verdict at the next hearing by dismissing this absurd case and releasing both these fine journalists unconditionally.”

Following the trial on Twitter all morning, Greste responded with jubilation:

Judge Hassan Farid set bail at 250,000 Egyptian pounds, or $32,765, but because of the legal process it was unclear when Fahmy and Mohamed would actually be released. The two journalists have been ordered not to leave their houses until the next hearing, which is slated for Feb. 23.

Along with Greste, the three journalists were arrested together in December 2013, accused of spreading "false news" and colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood, among other charges. All three received sentences between seven and 10 years and have repeatedly denied the charges.