Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

Egypt court orders release of Al Jazeera staff ahead of next hearing

Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy were behind bars for 411 days on charges they have always denied

An Egyptian court has ordered the release of detained Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy on bail. 

The retrial was ordered by the country's Court of Cassation last month, overturning a lower court that found them guilty of helping the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

"Bail is a small step in the right direction and allows Baher and Mohamed to spend time with their families after 411 days apart," an Al Jazeera spokesman said on Thursday. "The focus, though, is still on the court reaching the correct verdict at the next hearing by dismissing this absurd case and releasing both these fine journalists unconditionally."

Judge Hassan Farid said the next hearing would be on Feb. 23.

A third Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, who was also to be retried, was deported on Feb. 1 under a presidential decree after spending 400 days in prison. He has since returned to his home in Australia.

The three journalists, along with seven colleagues outside the country, were accused of spreading "false news" during their coverage of demonstrations protesting a military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed were given sentences of seven to 10 years.

In a bid to secure his release, Fahmy renounced his Egyptian citizenship so he could be deported to Canada, where he is also a citizen.

The journalists have repeatedly proclaimed their innocence, saying that they were punished for doing their jobs.

Al Jazeera

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