Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi last night pardoned the two journalists who worked alongside Peter Greste and were arrested for alleged false reporting in the country in 2013.
The Al Jazeera newsmen Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy were among 100 prisoners to be pardoned.
The trio that included Aussie Greste were found guilty by an Egyptian court for allegedly reporting “false” news about the country’s banned political party the Muslim Brotherhood. Aussie Greste spent seven months in jail and was deported to Australia in February this year. Greste found out about the pardon on last night’s The Chaser’s Media Circus:
He also just tweeted his support for the #FreeAJStaff:
— Peter Greste (@PeterGreste) September 24, 2015
Fahmy and Mohamed, a Canadian citizen, were expected to be released later in the day. Fahmy has also relinquished his Egyptian citizenship and will be deported to Canada, most likely in the next 24 hours.
The three men initially were convicted on June 23 last year, with Greste and Fahmy sentenced to seven years in prison and Mohamed to 10 years for also being found with a spent bullet.The pardons last night came on the eve of the Muslim holidays of Eid, when prisoner releases often take place in Muslim countries.
Initially, the sentences against the journalists provoked global outrage with much of the attacks against President el-Sisi himself. The pardon also comes a day before el-Sisi is to travel to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.
Yesterday in Canberra, Greste was on hand for the opening of a new memorial at the Australian War Memorial to commemorate journalists killed in action.
It was opened by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who said: “Peter Greste’s courage and his dedication to telling the truth and paying a very heavy price for us is understood by us all and I want, Peter — as I said to you yesterday — you to know that the Australian government continues to support you and your colleagues, and will continue to press the government of Egypt to pardon you and the other journalists with whom you worked that are still imprisoned in Egypt.
“But none is more important than a free and courageous press and today we are honouring war correspondents and, in doing so, we are honouring the freedom they have worked so hard to preserve,” Turnbull said.