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Egypt's President Pardons 2 Al-Jazeera Journalists


Canadian Al-Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy, listens to his lawyer, Khaled Abou Bakr, during his retrial in a courtroom, of Tora prison, in Cairo, Egypt, June 1, 2015.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi Wednesday pardoned 100 prisoners, including two al-Jazeera journalists sentenced for allegedly creating false news.

"The whole nightmare is over," said journalist Baher Mohammed, an Egyptian. "We can live like normal people and go back home and enjoy my life."

Canadian reporter Mohamed Fahmy said he is happy and vowed to continue to fight for press freedom in Egypt.

"We're going to travel the world, we're going to celebrate, we're going to party... our families have suffered so much since the beginning of this trial."

Fahmy and Mohamed were sentenced in an August retrial to three years in prison for allegedly fabricating "false" news in support of the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood movement, which the army removed from power in 2013.

Australian reporter Peter Greste was also convicted in the retrial, although he had been earlier deported through a presidential decree.

Human rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of widespread violations since the army toppled the country's first democratically elected president, Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, after mass protests against his rule two years ago.

Egyptian security forces arrested dozens of activists last year for violating the 2013 protest ban.

Prominent Egyptian activists Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif were among 16 women included in the pardon, which took place on the eve of the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, when Egyptian presidents usually pardon convicts for health or other reasons.

The pardon also comes a day before el-Sissi is to travel to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly.