Egyptian court grants bail to Al Jazeera journalists

An Egyptian court has freed two detained Al Jazeera journalists on bail after a retrial overturned a previous verdict that found them guilty of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamic group.

Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste were sentenced to seven to 10 years in June for “spreading false news, belonging to a terrorist organization and operating without a permit.” Greste was freed last week and the retrial for Mohamed and Fahmy is adjourned until Feb. 23.

“Bail is a small step in the right direction, and allows Baher and Mohamed to spend time with their families after 411 days apart,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.

Fahmy renounced his Egyptian citizenship in order to be eligible for deportation to Canada, where he is also a citizen. He was released on bail of 250,000 Egyptian pounds, or nearly $32,800. When asked to relinquish his citizenship, Fahmy was told by an Egyptian official that “citizenship is not a piece of paper. It is in the heart,” the Associated Press reported.

Mohamed holds no foreign citizenship and was released without bail.

Greste, who spent 400 days in a Cairo jail, was freed last week under a presidential decree that allowed the Australian to reunite with his family in Brisbane.

Egyptian authorities arrested the three men in December 2013, accusing them of being a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood. The journalists have denied the allegations.