CAIRO — The wife of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy says he and his Egyptian colleague have been released from prison.
Marwa Omara says her husband and his colleague, Baher Mohammed, were freed on Wednesday following a pardon from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
The two journalists were arrested in December 2013, and the long-running case has been widely condemned by rights groups and international organizations.
They were among a group of 100 people pardoned by el-Sissi on the eve of the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The pardon also comes a day before the Egyptian leader is to travel to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
Fahmy was given a three-year sentence last month after his second trial — an outcome which shocked international observers.
His ordeal began when he and his colleagues were arrested in 2013 while working for satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English in Cairo.
The trio spent more than a year in prison before an appeal of their convictions resulted in a second trial, although one of them, Australian Peter Greste, was abruptly deported.
Fahmy and his Mohamed were granted bail during their retrial, which culminated in last month’s surprising verdict.
Ottawa had formally asked Egypt’s president to pardon Fahmy or allow his deportation to Canada following his sentencing.
The federal government said it was pleased at Wednesday’s developments and that it would continue to help Fahmy with his departure from Egypt.
“Canada is pleased that Egyptian President el-Sisi has granted Mr. Fahmy a pardon,” said a spokeswoman with the department of foreign affairs. “We look forward to Mr. Fahmy reuniting with his family and loved ones, and his return to Canada.”
The court which convicted Fahmy said he and his colleagues were by default members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group — which Egypt consider a terrorist organization _ because their employer, Al Jazeera, “dedicated its broadcasting to the service and support of the Muslim Brotherhood faction.”
Al Jazeera is owned by Qatar, which has had a tense relationship with Egypt ever since the Egyptian military ousted the country’s former president Mohamed Morsi amid massive protests. Qatar is a strong backer of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Photo essay: One day in the life of Mohamed Fahmy