Thursday, February 19, 2015
With retrial set to continue February 23, there is still time for Canada to act
Mohamed Fahmy and his fiancée Marwa Omara at a welcome party celebrating his release on bail. PHOTO: Marwa Omara
Toronto, ON—Canadians continue to urge Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene on behalf of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy to obtain his deportation from Egypt. With the retrial of Fahmy and his colleague Baher Mohamed reconvening on Monday, February 23, this is a critical moment for Prime Minister Harper to personally reach out to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to secure Fahmy’s release.
At the February 11 opening session of their retrial, Al Jazeera English journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were granted bail for the first time since their arrest on December 29, 2013, and subsequent unjust conviction on terrorism charges. While the journalists’ retrial will reconvene on Monday, it could last for several months, further prolonging a traumatic ordeal that has already stretched more than 400 days. Despite the lack of evidence against them, there is still a danger that they will be found guilty on retrial; their safe release cannot be reliably entrusted to the Egyptian judicial system.
These conditions make it imperative that Prime Minister Harper urgently and personally appeal to President el-Sisi on Mohamed Fahmy’s behalf.
“It’s been made abundantly clear that the continuation of the retrial in no way prevents Mohamed Fahmy from being subject to the same deportation decree that freed Peter Greste,” said CJFE Executive Director Tom Henheffer. “Having been forced to give up his Egyptian citizenship, Fahmy is now perfectly placed to benefit from this decree–but Prime Minister Harper must act now.”
The campaign for Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed’s release has attracted broad support from concerned citizens across the country, from notable Canadians
such as Rick Mercer, Michael Ondaatje and Atom Egoyan, who said “Mohamed’s fight for freedom of expression is an important cause, and one I fully support.”
Former prisoners of conscience Tarek Loubani and John Greyson, who were also jailed in Egypt, and free expression organizations including CJFE, PEN Canada
and the Fédération Professionnelle des Journalistes du Québec
have also voiced their desire for Prime Minister Harper to intervene in this case.
“We’ve seen thousands of ordinary Canadians from across the country express their concern for this issue,” says Cecilia Greyson, sister of former detainee John Greyson. “For all of us, it’s essential that the Prime Minister advocate for Mohamed so that he is able to come home.”
Canadians interested in supporting the move to have #HarperCallEgypt are invited to contact their Members of Parliament and the Office of the Prime Minister to express their support for Mohamed Fahmy.
Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are principled and professional journalists who have been victims of injustice for far too long; it is time both journalists were freed unconditionally and the charges against them dropped.
For more information about the detention of Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, and the #FreeAJstaff campaign, visit cjfe.org/freeajstaff
CJFE monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, we promote a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights. cjfe.org
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For more information, please contact:
CJFE International Programs Coordinator
416-515-9622 ext. 262