Thursday, February 26, 2015
CJFE is encouraged by the news that the Office of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has finally reached out to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and requested a phone call to discuss the case of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. This call is long overdue, considering that Fahmy has been facing prosecution in the Egyptian judicial system for spurious terrorism charges since his arrest on December 29, 2013. CJFE urges Prime Minister Harper to use this call with President el-Sisi to push for the immediate and unconditional transfer of Mohamed Fahmy to Canada. The retrial of Mohamed Fahmy and his Egyptian Al Jazeera colleague Baher Mohamed began on February 12. Both journalists were freed on bail pending the continuation of their retrial; prior to that they spent more than 400 days in an Egyptian prison. During that time, Prime Minister Harper failed to make a single forceful statement in support of Fahmy’s release, in stark contrast to other leaders around the world. Even after Fahmy dropped his Egyptian citizenship, done under encouragement from Egyptian officials that it would lead to his deportation, Prime Minister Harper still did not make a phone call to President el-Sisi to advocate for Fahmy’s release. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Harper has received harsh criticism from Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, leaders of the NDP and Liberal parties respectively, for his lack of personal intervention on behalf of Mohamed Fahmy. Canadian citizens have also expressed their outrage at the Prime Minister’s lack of action through the #HarperCallEgypt social media campaign. While many observers were hopeful that the retrial of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed would be conducted at a higher judicial standard than that of their original trial, which was internationally condemned as corrupt, it became clear at the February 23 hearing that this would not be the case. Witnesses for the prosecution failed to appear, evidence was forgotten and Fahmy was unable to have his Canadian passport returned to him despite the fact that he is currently lacking identification documents. The proceedings were adjourned to March 8. It is becoming increasingly evident that Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed cannot expect a positive result from their retrial since it is being conducted under the same conditions as the trial that unjustly convicted them in the first place. Prime Minister Harper must act now to secure the deportation of Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian citizen who has committed no crime and has been trapped in legal limbo for too long.
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