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Canada calls for Egypt’s ‘immediate’ return of jailed Al-Jazeera journalist

August 29, 2015

Canada said Saturday it was disappointed by an Egyptian court’s conviction of a Canadian journalist who worked for Al-Jazeera and called for his “immediate” return.

Mohamed Fahmy was sentenced to three years in prison Saturday along with Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed for allegedly broadcasting “false news.” A third Al-Jazeera reporter, Australian Peter Greste, was convicted in absentia.

The trio had been retried following an overturn of initial seven-year sentences, and the new decision was a shock given international calls for acquittal.

“Canada is disappointed with Mohamed Fahmy’s conviction today. This decision severely undermines confidence in the rule of law in Egypt,” Lynne Yelich, minister of state for foreign affairs and consular matters, said in a statement.

“The government of Canada continues to call on the Egyptian government to use all tools at its disposal to resolve Mr. Fahmy’s case and allow his immediate return to Canada,”

Yelich’s statement noted that Canadian officials have raised the issue with Egypt and “will continue to do so.”

The European Union issued a statement Saturday calling the sentences a “setback for freedom of expression in Egypt.”

“We look forward to the appeals process and reiterate our call for the release of the defendants,” the statement said.

In January, former Canadian foreign minister John Baird traveled to Egypt in an attempt to secure Fahmy’s release.

Al-Jazeera, based in Qatar, has denounced the verdict against the journalists as a “deliberate attack on press freedom”.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists at least 18 journalists, many accused of being part of the Muslim Brotherhood, are behind bars in Egypt.

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