Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian bureau chief for the Al-Jazeera television network and a naturalized Canadian citizen, was released on bail early Friday morning, Cairo time. His Al-Jazeera colleague Baher Mohamed was also granted bail.

By Grant Buckler, for Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian bureau chief for the Al-Jazeera television network and a naturalized Canadian citizen, was released on bail early Friday morning, Cairo time. His Al-Jazeera colleague Baher Mohamed was also granted bail.

CBC quoted Adel Fahmy, his brother, as saying the release happened suddenly, just after 4 a.m. local time.

Fahmy’s family and others had been hoping he would be deported to Canada rather than retried,  an outcome he tried to facilitate by renouncing his Egyptian citizenship earlier this month. His Australian colleague, Peter Greste, had already been released. The announcement that Fahmy and Mohamed would be retried was a huge blow to Fahmy’s family and those campaigning for his release. As J-Source reported earlier, the family launched a #HarperCallEgypt campaign, calling on Prime Minister Harper to intervene directly on behalf of Fahmy, in advance of the retrial.

On being released Fahmy also called on  the government to do more. “[W]hy hasn’t Harper spoken to Sisi?” asked Fahmy. “[Australian Prime Minister] Tony Abbott spoke to Sisi three times to get Peter [Greste] out of the country.”

Fahmy made a brief court appearance Thursday, where he was granted bail before the trial was adjourned to February 23.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression welcomed the release of Fahmy and Mohamed on bail, but called on the Egyptian government to drop all charges against the journalists and urged the Canadian government to advocate at the highest level for Fahmy’s release.

PEN Canada similarly welcomed the two journalists’ release but called on the Egyptian government to drop charges.

Columnist Patrick Martin points out in The Globe and Mail that Fahmy has no guarantee of an acquittal in the new trial, but suggests he might be given a shorter sentence roughly matching the time he has already served and sent home fairly quickly.

Grant Buckler is a retired freelance journalist and a volunteer with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and lives in Kingston, Ont.