Egypt's Sisi pardons 100 prisoners, including Al Jazeera journalists

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2 Jailed Al Jazeera Journalists in Egypt Have Been Pardoned

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pardoned 100 prisoners including three Al Jazeera television journalists on Wednesday, a day before he plans to head to the annual United Nations summit of world leaders.

Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste were sentenced to three years in prison in a retrial last month for operating without a press license and broadcasting material harmful to Egypt. Greste had already been deported in February.

A spokesperson for the Canadian government said that Canada was pleased with the pardon and it would help arrange Fahmy's departure from Egypt.

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The pardons were reported by security sources and Egypt's state news agency, which said they included prisoners who violated a 2013 law banning protests without a permit, as well as some who were sick.

"This comes in the framework of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's initiative to release a number of youth which he launched... in December," it said, quoting presidential sources.

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.

Also among the released were 16 women, including Yara Sallam, the news agency said. Sallam was arrested last year along with other activists accused of violating the protest law.

The pardons were announced on the same day that France announced it had agreed to sell Egypt two French Mistral helicopter carriers, whose planned sale to Russia had been canceled.

(Reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan and Omar Fahmy, writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Dominic Evans)

See photos of the Al Jazeera journalists being sentenced last year:

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Egypt Sentences Al Jazeera journalists
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Egypt's Sisi pardons 100 prisoners, including Al Jazeera journalists
FILE- In this Monday, March 31, 2014 file photo, Al-Jazeera English producer Baher Mohamed, center left, Canadian-Egyptian acting Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, center, and correspondent Peter Greste, second right, appear in court along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges, in Cairo, Egypt. Judge Mohammed Nagui Shehata sentenced the three journalists to seven years in prison. They had been accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which the authorities have declared a terrorist organization. The case has caused an outcry, with rights groups saying the prosecution of the journalists was politicized and undermines freedom of expression in Egypt. (AP Photo/Heba Elkholy, El Shorouk, File) EGYPT OUT
FILE - In this Thursday, May 15, 2014 file photo, from left, Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, Australian correspondent Peter Greste, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed appear in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo. Egyptian Judge Mohamed Nagui Shehata has sentenced the three journalists to seven years in prison Monday, June 23, 2014 in their trial on terrorism-related charges. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam, File)
FILE - In this May 3, 2014 file photo, Al-Jazeera's award-winning Australian correspondent Peter Greste appears in a defendants' cage in the Police Academy courthouse along with several other defendants during a trial on terror charges in Cairo, Egypt. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday, June 23 that he told Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi that the jailed Australian journalist is innocent of charges that he supported the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam, File)
Al-Jazeera Arabic service journalist Abdullah Elshamy, center, who had been on hunger strike for more than four months to protest his prolonged detention without charges, kisses his mothers forehead after his release from detention in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Elshamy was swept up with hundreds of protesters on Aug. 14, 2013 while covering the violent dispersal of a sprawling sit-in by ousted President Mohammed Morsi supporters, which saw hundreds killed and thousands wounded. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Al-Jazeera Arabic service journalist Abdullah Elshamy, center, who had been on hunger strike for more than four months to protest his prolonged detention without charges, speaks to the media after his release from detention in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Elshamy was swept up with hundreds of protesters on Aug. 14, 2013 while covering the violent dispersal of a sprawling sit-in by ousted President Mohammed Morsi supporters, which saw hundreds killed and thousands wounded. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
FILE - In this Thursday, May 15, 2014 file photo, from left, Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, Australian correspondent Peter Greste, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed appear in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo. Egypt’s state news agency says the trial of three Al-Jazeera English journalists and 17 others has adjourned until next week when the judge will deliver the verdict, five months after the trial opened. Fahmy, Greste and Baher have been in detention since December 29. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam, File)
Al-Jazeera's acting bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian, center, and Australian correspondent Peter Greste, center right, appear in a defendant cage along with other defendants during a trial on terrorism charges in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, May 22, 2014. A defense lawyer for one of three Al-Jazeera journalists on trial in Egypt on terrorism charges has told the judge that the proceedings against his client "make no sense." (AP Photo/Ahmed Gamil)
Al-Jazeera's Egyptian journalist Abdullah Elshamy, center, appears in a defendants' cage along with several other defendants in a courthouse during a trial on terror charges in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Looking thin and weak, an Al-Jazeera journalist held without charges in Egypt vowed Thursday to continue his more than 100-day hunger strike despite being moved to solitary confinement. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
Farag Fathi, lawyer for Al-Jazeera's Australian correspondent Peter Greste prepares to leave the court as he decided to quit the case during the trial in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Fathi and two other lawyers representing Al-Jazeera English journalists on trial in Egypt abruptly have quit the case, accusing the Doha-based network of using the arrest of their staff to tarnish Egypt’s image. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, from left, Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed appear in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Three lawyers representing Al-Jazeera English journalists on trial in Egypt abruptly have quit the case, accusing the Doha-based network of using the arrest of their staff to tarnish Egypt’s image. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
Australian correspondent of Al-Jazeera Peter Greste appears in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Three lawyers representing Al-Jazeera English journalists on trial in Egypt abruptly have quit the case, accusing the Doha-based network of using the arrest of their staff to tarnish Egypt’s image. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
Australian correspondent of Al-Jazeera Peter Greste appears in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Three lawyers representing Al-Jazeera English journalists on trial in Egypt abruptly have quit the case, accusing the Doha-based network of using the arrest of their staff to tarnish Egypt’s image. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, left, and Australian correspondent Peter Greste appear in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
Canadian-Egyptian acting Al-Jazeera bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy talks to the judge in a courthouse near Tora prison along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, May 3, 2014. Fahmy made a rare appeal to the judge from outside of the defendants' cage, at the end of which the judge wished him a "happy" World Press Freedom Day. In his brief plea Saturday, Fahmy stood directly before the judge's bench. Fahmy said journalists have to speak to all sides to do their jobs including both the government and the Muslim Brotherhood, among others. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
Al-Jazeera's award-winning Australian correspondent Peter Greste, center, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed appear in a defendants' cage in a courthouse near Tora prison along with other defendants during their trial on terror charges in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, May 3, 2014. Greste and Mohamed, along with Al-Jazeera employee Mohammed Fahmy, face charges of being part of a terrorist group and airing falsified footage intended to damage Egyptian national security. Al-Jazeera and the journalists have denied the charges. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
FILE - In this file photo taken Wednesday, March 5, 2014, Al Jazeera English bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, left, producer Baher Mohamed, second left, and correspondent Peter Greste, center, stand inside the defendants' cage in a courtroom during their trial on terror charges, along with several other defendants, in Cairo Egypt. Pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera said Monday, April 28, that it has filed a claim against Egypt demanding $150 million in compensation to cover what it says are damages to its investments in the country since July. (AP Photo/Mohammed Abu Zaid, File)
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