Fahmy thanks Mulcair, Trudeau: 'You know who I'm not voting for'
Christina Commisso and Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, October 13, 2015 5:33AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 13, 2015 4:53PM EDT
Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy says he felt “betrayed” by Prime Minister Stephen Harper while he sat wrongly accused in an Egyptian jail cell, and that he “intends to vote” in the Oct. 19 election.
Fahmy joined Tom Mulcair during a brief news conference in Toronto on Tuesday, where he thanked the NDP Leader for “directly questioning Mr. Harper in Parliament about the mild stance toward my case.”
Fahmy said that, because he is a journalist, he “cannot endorse anyone.”
“However, I’m very clear in my gratitude to Mr. Mulcair and (MP) Mr. Paul Dewar and the NDP for their support,” he said.
“You do know who I’m not voting for,” he added. “That’s for sure.”
Earlier in the day, at a longer Q&A session hosted by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Fahmy said he felt Harper didn't do enough to secure his release after he was arrested on widely condemned terror-related charges.
"There are no words to describe how it feels when you are wrongfully convicted and sitting in a cold cell, infested with insects (and) nurturing a broken shoulder," he told an audience at Ryerson University. "But when you're there, your only hope is that your prime minister would do everything in his power to get you out of there.
"Our prime minister delegated his responsibility to people who lacked the clout to really get me out of there," he continued.
Fahmy said the junior ministers and the ambassadors on the ground in Egypt were "diligent," but he said they didn't have the authority to plead directly with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
In late August, after Fahmy was sentenced to three years in prison, Harper tweeted: "Canada continues to call on Egypt for the immediate and full release of Mr. Fahmy, and full co-operation to facilitate his return home."
Defence Minister Jason Kenney said at the time that the Canadian government had serious concerns about Fahmy's case and would continue to raise its concerns "at the highest levels."
Fahmy, 41, maintains that while Canadian citizens recognized the urgency of the situation he faced while imprisoned in Egypt, the Conservative government did not.
"Sitting in that prison cell, it was difficult not to feel betrayed and abandoned by Prime Minister Harper," Fahmy said.
Speaking to CTV News Channel directly after the news conference, Fahmy said the government needs to support its citizens abroad "in the most aggressive manner."
"In the Middle East right now, the political turmoil is intense and others could be in my situation," he added.
Fahmy ‘had a beer with Trudeau’
In addition to thanking Mulcair, Fahmy told the Ryerson University audience that he was thankful for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s help, including with securing a replacement passport.
Fahmy said he had a beer with Trudeau on Monday night and the two discussed issues surrounding freedom of the press.
The Liberal Leader shared a photo on Twitter Tuesday that showed the two embracing.
Fahmy was arrested in Egypt in 2013 with two colleagues and detained on terror-related charges.
Fahmy received a pardon in September. He said he plans to take up a position as professor at the University of British Columbia's journalism school in Vancouver.
"I'm excited to just reflect on what happened to me and start a new phase," he said. "Canada is the best place to do that."
Fahmy said he’ll continue to work on the foundation he launched while in prison to fight for press freedoms.
The foundation provides financial assistance and advocates for reporters and photographers who are unjustly imprisoned. It is currently campaigning on behalf of seven journalists, some of whom have been imprisoned for more than four years.
Fahmy said journalists are increasingly being arrested on terror charges in the Middle East, in what has become an unfortunate "trend."
"I've called on the Egyptian government today to differentiate between terrorists and reporters who are fighting these terrorists with their pens and cameras," he said.