Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, who were held in Egypt for 411 days, were reunited with their families.
Their release on Friday came a day after an Egyptian court granted bail in the case against the journalists and said the next hearing would be on February 23.
Speaking after his release, Baher Mohamed said he was ” proud of every moment … spent in prison for the freedom of expression”.
“I am really proud of it. If time goes back I will choose the same experience. I know the case is still there and I will continue to fight for our freedom of expression. I will not back off.”
Fahmy was asked by the judge to pay a security bond of around $33,000.
After Friday’s ruling, Jihan Rashid, Baher Mohamed’s wife, said: “I’m going immediately to tell the kids that their father is coming home today and that life will be beautiful. I’ll wait to welcome him back. Life has changed today.”
Adel Fahmy, Mohamed Fahmy’s brother, said: “We will play by the law we will abide by the Egyptian law and I am sure that he’s been vindicated by this, and will later be completely vindicated when this case falls apart.”
The judicial fight for Mohamed and Fahmy will continue until the charges are dropped.
— Abdullah Elshamy (@abdallahelshamy) February 13, 2015
Baher was initially sentenced to 10 years and Fahmy 7 years in prison. That decision was recently overturned.
Egypt’s highest court of appeals has challenged the evidence presented by the prosecution, saying the proceedings were flawed and ordered a retrial.
Earlier this, month another Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, was deported to Australia after spending 400 days in detention.
Fahmy – who is an Egyptian-Canadian – was told by the authorities that his only way to freedom is to renounce his Egyptian citizenship, which he has done.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed their release, urging authorities to free other journalists “in accordance with Egypt’s international obligations to protect the freedoms of expression and association”.
— Mohamed Fahmy (@MFFahmy11) February 13, 2015
Fahmy, Mohamed and Greste were arrested in December 2013 and sentenced to between seven and 10 years for aiding the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. The three men and their employer deny the charges.
The Australian said on Friday Greste was overjoyed at his two colleagues’ release but said that it was too soon to celebrate with a retrial pending.
“The trial is ongoing, and nobody has yet been acquitted,” he said in comments carried by Australian Associated Press news agency.
“I’m looking forward to the day when the court declares all of us innocent of the charges. Then the party will really begin.”
Geoffrey Robertson, a London-based human rights lawyer, said: “The bail release is a small step in the right direction but this should have happened 411 days ago. There’s no evidence that they’ve been complicit with the Muslim Brotherhood; no evidence that they’ve been involved in terrorism.”