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Egypt’s president pardons jailed Al Jazeera journalists, 98 others

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has pardoned 100 prisoners, including Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who lost their appeal last month on terrorism-related charges.

State-run television confirmed the pardons for both Fahmy and Mohamed, though there was no immediate word on whether Peter Greste, who was freed and deported earlier this year, was included in the pardon. Other prisoners pardoned on Wednesday include activists Sana Seif and Yara Sallam.

All those included in the presidential pardon are expected to be released within hours.

Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy and correspondent Peter Greste were arrested on the evening of December 29, 2013, at Cairo's Zamalek Marriott Hotel, where they were using two suites as a base of operation after Al Jazeera had undergone repeated attacks, arrests and confiscation of equipment by Egyptian authorities. Producer Baher Mohamed was arrested that same night at his home in Cairo. The trio was accused of conniving with the Muslim Brotherhood, distributing false news, and jeopardizing national security.

The three imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists have denied the charges, as has their employer.

In February, Greste was released and deported to Australia under a presidential decree, though the journalist did not receive a pardon. An Egyptian court re-sentenced the trio in late August after a judge found the men guilty of not registering themselves with the country's journalist syndicate, bringing in equipment without the approval of security officials, broadcasting "false news," and using a hotel as a broadcasting point without permission.

The prosecution and detention of the journalists was heavily criticized around the world. During the initial trial, the prosecution showed video footage that was unrelated to Egypt and showed clips from networks other than Al Jazeera, including Sky News Arabia tourism reports and BBC podcasts. The prosecution also played sound recordings that were inaudible and presented those as evidence against the journalists.

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