Egypt to free jailed Al Jazeera journalists

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SHAFAQNA- A Qatari newspaper on Wednesday expected Egyptian authorities to release three Al Jazeera reporters – now in jail in Egypt – through a presidential amnesty.

Qatari newspaper Al-Arab quoted unnamed Egyptian sources as saying that Cairo would offer the three journalists – Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmi, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed – in a presidential pardon.

In June of this year, the trio was handed jail sentences – ranging between seven and ten years each – after being convicted of broadcasting false news and threatening Egypt’s national security.

The sources told the Qatari newspaper that Al Jazeera would be allowed to reopen its office in Cairo and that Cairo would drop a requirement that Qatari diplomats obtain visas before entering Egypt.

The editor of Qatari daily Al-Sharq, Gaber al-harmi, meanwhile, expected the three Al Jazeera journalists to be released from Egyptian jails in the next few days and the freewheeling Qatar-owned news channel to reopen its office in the Egyptian capital.

“According to informed sources, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr will return to broadcast from Cairo in days to come,” al-Harmi wrote on his Twitter account.

On Wednesday, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop expressed hope that Greste would be released before Christmas.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed; we don’t know whether we have secured this yet,” she added.

Bishop told Australia’s Seven Network that she had urged her Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, to order Greste’s release for Christmas.

She noted that Shoukry had told her that the issue was still under consideration at the highest levels of the Egyptian government.

In January, an Egyptian appeals court is expected to look into an appeal filed against the jail sentences received by the three journalists.

“It would be very exciting if there were some steps taken before then,” Bishop said.

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