Amal Clooney to visit Egypt to push for Mohamed Fahmy's release
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, February 7, 2015 11:44AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 7, 2015 10:09PM EST
Lawyer Amal Clooney has requested an in-person meeting with Egypt's president and foreign minister to push for the release of jailed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
Clooney informed President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi in a letter Saturday that she hopes to meet with him "as soon as possible" to discuss Fahmy's case.
Fahmy has languished in an Egyptian jail for over a year on charges of assisting the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that El-Sissi has labelled a terrorist organization.
He was sentenced to a lengthy prison term in June along with Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed and Australian journalist Peter Greste.
Greste was deported to Australia last week, sparking renewed hope that Fahmy's release might also be near.
Clooney cites Greste's release in her plea to El-Sissi to release Fahmy.
"Since Mr. Greste's release, Mr. Fahmy's Egyptian cousel has been informed by Egyptian government officials that his release was to follow, and that it was imminent," Clooney wrote in the letter obtained by CTV News. "This was to be expected, given that Mr. Fahmy has been the victim of the same injustice as Mr. Greste."
Outgoing Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Fahmy's release is "imminent" earlier this week ahead of his resignation.
Clooney had originally intended to meet Fahmy in Toronto upon his release this week, but she may alter her plans to instead visit Cairo if Fahmy is not released in the next few days. She says in her letter that she intends to visit "in the near future."
Fahmy recently abandoned his Egyptian citizenship, making him a citizen of Canada only, in a bid to speed up his release.
Clooney's visit will mark the first time she has met her client in person since her British law firm, Doughty Street Chambers, took the case.
The full text of her letter is included below:
Dear President Sisi/ Foreign Minister
I write as counsel to Mr Mohamed Fahmy, the journalist who has been detained in Cairo since December 2013. I repeat my request for the immediate release of my client. Since this has not yet occurred, however, I now write to request a meeting with you, or your designated officials, as soon as possible to discuss the status of the case.
In my letter to you dated 28 December I explained that Mr Fahmy’s detention was illegal and requested that you take immediate action to bring about his release. The letter attached an official request for Mr Fahmy’s transfer to Canada under applicable laws as well as a request for a pardon and release on health grounds.
I am delighted to note that five days ago, on 1 February, Mr Fahmy’s co-defendant in the trial that led to his imprisonment was released from detention in Egypt. The Ministry of Interior reportedly stated that the government had "decided to extradite Australian journalist Peter Greste... to his country today... after the cabinet's approval, in enforcement of the Presidential Decree no. 140 for the year 2014 regarding the rulings on extraditing defendants and deporting the convicts”. Since Mr Greste’s release, Mr Fahmy's Egyptian counsel has been informed by Egyptian government officials that his release was to follow, and that it was imminent.
This was to be expected, given that Mr Fahmy has been the victim of the same injustice as Mr Greste. Both were charged in connection with their work as journalists at the Al Jazeera English news network; both sentenced to 7 years in prison following an unfair trial. And both are foreign nationals eligible for transfer under Law 140/2014: as confirmed in the Egyptian Official Gazette no. 4497 of 2014, Mr Fahmy “is permitted to become a naturalised citizen of Canada without retaining his Egyptian citizenship”.
Despite clear assurances that he would be released, Mr Fahmy remains in detention in Egypt. I therefore plan to visit Cairo in the near future to meet with Mr Fahmy and to discuss the prospects for his release. I would be grateful if you could confirm receipt of this letter and inform me as soon as possible of the next available opportunity to discuss the matters raised in this letter with you or a member of your staff.
Thank you for your urgent consideration of this matter.