WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) welcomes the news that detained journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed will soon be released on bail pending the outcome of their re-trial, after spending more than 13 months behind bars. At the same time, TIMEP remains concerned that charges against the two men have not been dropped, and that Egypt continues to detain countless other prisoners, many in violation of their fundamental rights to due process.
The two journalists, along with their colleague, Peter Greste, were originally sentenced to between seven and ten years in prison for allegedly aiding a terrorist organization and spreading false news. Twelve other co-defendants received similar sentences, including three foreign journalists who were tried in absentia. On appeal, a Cairo court denied the journalists’ request to be released on bail and instead ordered a retrial.
“We welcome the news that Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been released from prison,” said TIMEP Executive Director Nancy Okail. “We hope that the specious charges against these men will soon be dropped, and that the numerous other individuals unjustly detained in Egyptian prisons will be immediately and unconditionally released.”
News of Fahmy and Mohamed’s impending release comes less than two weeks after their colleague, Peter Greste, was allowed to return home to Australia. Greste was released pursuant to a decree issued by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last November that empowers him to order the repatriation of foreigners facing trial or serving sentences in Egypt. Although Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian, was compelled to renounce his Egyptian citizenship in order to qualify for repatriation, some say his deportation now appears unlikely.
TIMEP applauds the Egyptian government’s release of the three journalists, but urges that charges against Fahmy and Mohamed be dropped and that other prisoners unjustly detained in Egypt be immediately and unconditionally released. TIMEP also calls upon the Egyptian government again to uphold its international and constitutional legal obligations to protect free press and due process rights by allowing journalists to do their jobs freely, without risk of arbitrary arrest and detention.
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The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of democratic transitions in the Middle East through analysis, advocacy, and action.