Critical time for Fahmy who has a 'chance' to be deported before trial, brother says
The brother of jailed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy says there is “a chance” his brother could be deported from Egypt, even though his retrial is scheduled to begin on Thursday.
Adel Fahmy said Wednesday that Canada’s ambassador to Egypt met recently with the prosecutor in his brother’s case. The prosecutor, he explained, would be the person to sign off on Mohamed Fahmy’s deportation order before it would go to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for final approval.
“And we understand there is still a chance that my brother could be deported even if the court starts tomorrow,” Fahmy told News Channel in a telephone interview from Cairo.
“Now, this means we need to keep the pressure on the Egyptian government so they can deport my brother.”
In a statement released Wednesday, Fahmy’s family called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper “to personally intervene today” to ensure that Fahmy is released. The statement asks that Harper call el-Sissi “before Mohamed’s retrial begins.”
“This is a critical time for Fahmy, as he is now facing a retrial set for Thursday, February 12,” the statement says.
“Human rights organizations, political leaders, and most recently the highest appeals court in Egypt have condemned the original arrest and trial as lacking evidence, credibility, unjust, and a “sham.”
A spokesperson for Harper issued a statement reiterating the PMO’s stance from Tuesday, which is that the prime minister “has communicated” with el-Sissi regarding Fahmy’s case.
“I'm not going to get into the specifics of the communication between the PM and the President, including the timing or details of that communication,” press secretary Carl Vallee said in an email to CTV News.
“As you know we have also raised the case at the highest levels of the Egyptian government through the actions of ministers and officials and we will continue to do so.”
A separate letter written to Harper by Fahmy’s London-based lawyer, Amal Clooney, was also issued on Wednesday, though is dated February 8.
Clooney notes that while Fahmy is “very grateful” for the Canadian government’s efforts on his behalf, “your direct intervention as Prime Minister is now urgently needed.”
On Feb. 1, Fahmy’s Al-Jazeera colleague, Peter Greste, was released from prison following multiple direct pleas to el-Sissi by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Clooney writes.
“Mr. Fahmy deserves no less from you,” she says. “Indeed, there are indications that the lack of such intervention may be preventing a successful outcome. Currently, discussions are taking place at lower-than-ministerial level on this file, which is not appropriate given the urgency of the matter today.
“We cannot let bureaucratic hurdles or diplomatic inertia prevent an innocent man from being set free. I urge you to contact the Egyptian President and speak up for your citizen today.”
Fahmy, Greste and their colleague Baher Mohammed, were arrested and thrown into an Egyptian jail in December 2013 on accusations that they had conspired with the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government has deemed a terror group.
Fahmy rescinded his Egyptian citizenship in the hope that it would lead to his deportation under the same recent Egyptian law that saw Greste ousted from the country as a foreign national.
Last week, then-foreign affairs minister John Baird said Fahmy’s release “was imminent,” however he remains imprisoned.
Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair said Wednesday that Canada should “be playing a more active role” in securing Fahmy’s release.
“Last week, Minister Baird, as he then was, said right into the microphones his release is imminent,” Mulcair told CTV’s Power Play. “I know John Baird well enough to know that he wasn’t making that up. He thought we had a deal with the Egyptians and we simply don’t know why this is allowed to happen.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has also urged Harper to get personally involved in the case.
As Fahmy’s retrial date has neared, Canadians have taken to social media to urge Harper to intervene, sending tweets with the hashtag #HarperCallEgypt.