Wednesday, February 26, 2014The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P., Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs 2249 Carling Ave, Suite 418 Ottawa, Ontario K2B 7E9 Dear Minister, I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world. CJFE and Al Jazeera English are deeply troubled that the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development has not publicly called for the release of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. Fahmy has been detained in Egypt since December 29, 2013, with his Al Jazeera English colleagues Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed. During his time in prison, Fahmy has been denied access to medical attention and been kept in conditions which he has described as “psychologically unbearable.” While Mohamed Fahmy is a dual citizen of both Egypt and Canada, this fact makes him no less of a Canadian citizen. As a Canadian citizen, Fahmy is deserving of his government’s intervention at a time when he is facing mounting injustice as a result of completely spurious charges. Journalism is not a crime, and Fahmy is facing extraordinary retribution for simply doing his job. The international community, including the United States and United Nations, has demanded the immediate release of these journalists, but the Canadian government has not. While the consular services offered to Fahmy and his family have been exemplary, more needs to be done to hasten the release of these journalists. The government of Canada has a responsibility to raise this issue at the highest political level with representatives of the Egyptian government. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development needs to advocate vehemently for Fahmy’s release, in addition to his wellbeing. We urge the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs to:
- • Speak out decisively and publicly for Mohamed Fahmy’s release and for the spurious charges against him to be dropped.
- • Break his silence and condemn the oppressive conditions for press freedom in Egypt, as countless others have done.
- • Urge the Egyptian government to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and assembly that are enshrined in its constitution.