Friday, September 19, 2014The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2 Dear Prime Minister Harper, 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 asks you to take advantage of your upcoming appearance at the United Nations General Assembly to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and continue advocating for the release of imprisoned Canadian-Egyptian Al Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy. Along with his colleagues Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, Fahmy has been unjustly imprisoned since December 29, 2013. Despite the lack of supporting evidence and multiple procedural violations throughout their kangaroo trial, the three journalists were convicted of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and producing false news on June 23, 2014. While Fahmy and his colleagues have appealed their illegitimate guilty verdicts, the three innocent men continue to languish in prison under patently false charges. This stands in contravention to Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” The Egyptian government has also repeatedly violated their right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to “receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” According to statistics collected by CJFE, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013, at least 60 journalists have been assaulted, 70 journalists have been arrested, and seven journalists have been killed, all in the course of their reporting. At least 11 journalists, including Fahmy and his colleagues, are currently imprisoned in Egypt. Further, despite overwhelming evidence that the government of President el-Sisi is guilty of human rights violations, the president has yet to be held accountable for these crimes. As this will be your first address at the United Nations General Assembly since 2010, this is a key moment for Canada to demonstrate its commitment to human rights and democratic values on the international stage. CJFE urges you to meet with President el-Sisi and advocate for the release of Mohamed Fahmy, his colleagues, and for all other prisoners of conscience currently languishing in Egyptian prisons for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression. We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply. Yours sincerely, Arnold Amber, CJFE President Cc: Mr. Guillermo E. Rishchynski, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs His Excellency Mr. Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations
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