Mohamed Fahmy released on bail in Cairo

Mohamed Fahmy, the Canadian journalist for Al-Jazeera who has spent over a year in prison, and his Egyptian colleague were released in Cairo Friday, a day after they were granted bail while awaiting a retrial on terror-related charges.

Fahmy's Al-Jazeera colleague, Egyptian Baher Mohamed, also released

Egyptian-Canadian journalist is now trying to put his life back together, Sasa Petricic reports 1:35

Mohamed Fahmy, the Canadian journalist for Al-Jazeera who has spent over a year in prison, was released in Cairo Friday, after being granted bail while awaiting a retrial on terror-related charges.

"Free Sunshine at Cairo Marriott Where it all started with my better half ... till death do us part," Fahmy said in a tweet. He was arrested at the hotel in a police raid more than a year ago.

Fahmy added in a tweet: "Lots of love to the global journalism community for supporting us. A special 'Thank you' to the foreign press family in Egypt."

Adel Fahmy, his brother, said the release happened suddenly, just after 4 a.m. local time.

"We're not exactly clear what the bail conditions were, if he has to surrender travel documents," CBC reporter Derek Steoffel said from Cairo.

"I think there's also a sense from the family that Mohamed had to give up his citizenship under duress; he wanted to keep both passports."

Fahmy, who was born in Egypt and is a naturalized Canadian, will reportedly have to check into a police station daily as part of his bail conditions, Stoffel said.

The family is hoping Fahmy will be deported before his retrial resumes Feb. 23 and wants Canada to increase pressure on Egypt.

On mobile? See Fahmy tweet about his freedom here

"They don't think the Canadian government has been involved enough, and has not put enough pressure on the Egyptian government," CBC's Sasa Petricic said today from Cairo. "But it does seem from this perspective that a deportation is a long shot at this stage."

Fahmy was arrested along with two colleagues from Al-Jazeera in December 2013. They were accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news to undermine Egypt's national security.

Peter Greste was freed earlier this month and returned to his native Australia. Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, was also released on Friday, a few hours after Fahmy.

Marwa Omara, fiancée of Canadian Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, has been consistently calling for Fahmy's release and was in court Thursday when he was granted bail. (Hassan Ammar/The Associated Press)

At an initial trial in February 2014, Fahmy and his colleagues rejected the charges against them and pleaded not guilty — but all three were convicted and handed multi-year sentences. Egypt's top court later ordered a retrial, saying their conviction was based on "flawed evidence" and that the trial was marred by violations of the defendants' rights.

Fahmy's parents moved to Canada in 1991, with all becoming Canadian citizens and living in Montreal.

His fiancée, Marwa Omara, has repeatedly spoken out about Fahmy's incarceration and efforts to have him released. 

Omara broke into tears as the news of his bail was announced and later told CBC News she looked forward to seeing Fahmy out of prison clothes and smiling. 

Fahmy, 40, renounced his Egyptian citizenship, leading to the expectation that he could be deported to Canada. However, it was announced in recent days that he would be retried along with Baher Mohamed.

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs was not immediately available to comment on Fahmy's release. His family and lawyer, Amal Clooney have been seeking more advocacy from the Canadian government. 

Clooney statement

Clooney issued a statement saying there was no guarantee that the retrial will comply with international standards.

She said Fahmy could be sent home to Canada on the same basis that his Australian colleague Peter Greste was repatriated.

"Mr. Fahmy is eligible for transfer under this same law — and the retrial process that began today does not change that."

She urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to help.

"There is no impediment to his immediate transfer to Canada and Prime Minister Harper should personally intervene to ensure that the promise that was made by the Egyptian government to his government, and to its citizen, is now honoured," she said.

A spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a statement early Friday: "The secretary general welcomes the decision by the Egyptian authorities to release on bail the journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. He hopes that their cases, as well as those of other journalists in detention, will be resolved expeditiously and in accordance with Egypt’s international obligations to protect the freedoms of expression and association."

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press


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