Sign up for PM Award Updates!

Canada’s top envoy to go to Egypt to free journalist

January 13, 2015

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will travel Wednesday to Egypt to seek the release of Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, who was jailed in December 2013 with two other Al-Jazeera journalists.

Ottawa’s top diplomat said last week he was close to reaching a deal with Egypt on deporting Fahmy to Canada, adding negotiations were at a “critical phase.”

His office said Baird is scheduled to hold talks Wednesday and Thursday in Luxor and Cairo with senior Egyptian officials, including his counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

“Canada has been an ardent supporter of Egypt’s efforts to build a stable, inclusive, prosperous and democratic country based on respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law,” Baird said in a statement.

“This trip will be an opportunity to further advance these priorities.”

Baird will also discuss regional security, religious freedom and economic issues.

Fahmy and two other Al-Jazeera journalists — Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — were detained in December 2013 for spreading false information and accused of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

Fahmy’s brother said a request has been submitted to have him deported from Egypt under a new law signed by Sisi.

Greste’s lawyer has said he submitted a similar request, while Mohamed’s wife said she also was looking at ways to get her husband out of Egypt.

At trial Greste and Fahmy each got seven years, and Mohamed was jailed for 10. Their supporters say the charges were politically motivated.

Egypt’s top court ordered a retrial in the case two weeks ago.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.