The Committee to Protect Journalists was celebrating Wednesday after Egypt pardoned Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who had been sentenced and imprisoned for aiding a terrorist organization. But CPJ made clear it was only a step in the right direction for a government that was off track when it came to protecting journalists.
They were among 100 prisoners pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the start of Isalmic festival Eid al-Adha Sept. 24 and in advance of his address to the United Nations General Assembly next week.
"We are heartened by the news that Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed will be freed after almost 21 months of politicized trials," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "But this is just a first step. Egypt can begin tackling its shameful record of press freedom by releasing all journalists imprisoned for their work in the country."
CPJ said it was not clear whether another Al-Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, who was deported and tried in absentia rather than imprisoned, had also been pardoned.
CPJ said Egypt is holding at least 18 more journalists in connection to their work.