(OTTAWA) – December 29th will mark the one-year anniversary of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy’s wrongful imprisonment in Egypt. Having raised the issue with the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in the past, Green Party Leader and Saanich – Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May has re-iterated that the Prime Minister must ask for the immediate release of Mr. Fahmy.
“Over the last year, both the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister have taken little action towards publicly advocating for the release of Mr. Fahmy,” stated Ms. May. “In the past, this government has worked to protect other Canadians with dual-citizenships abroad, so there should be no good reason as to why the Canadian government continues to remain silent while Mr. Fahmy and his family suffer.”
Mr. Fahmy, a producer with Al-Jazeera’s English service, was arrested in Cairo last year. He was found guilty in June 2014 of providing a platform for the Muslim Brotherhood and received a seven-year prison term along with two of his colleagues from Australia and the U.K. Mr. Fahmy appealed the verdict and is awaiting a decision by the Egyptian Appeal Court on January 1, 2015.
“I believe that free speech is a fundamental human right that is in the interests of not only individuals such as Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, but also for the advancement of democracy in Egypt,” added Green Party Human Rights Critic Joe Foster.
To date, Canada has only issued a vaguely worded statement after Mr. Fahmy was sentenced in June 2014. By contrast, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot is reported to have personally lobbied for the release of Australian journalist Peter Greste. In addition, British Prime Minister David Cameron has strongly condemned the verdict. The United States, which have no citizens involved in this case, also called the sentences, “chilling and draconian.”
Mr. Fahmy praised the Canadian Embassy in Cairo for the work that they have done for him. However, he said in an interview with the CBC’s Fifth Estate that he desperately needs the Government of Canada to intervene on his behalf.
Ms. May concluded that Mr. Fahmy is a Canadian citizen with no criminal record who is physically and psychologically suffering because of his incarceration.
“As Mr. Fahmy’s health continues to deteriorate in prison, I urge the Prime Minister to issue a strong public statement calling on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to pardon or release him on humanitarian grounds,” said Elizabeth May.
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