Saturday, February 28, 2015

Jailed Al-Jazeera staff member gives up Egyptian citizenship, awaits retrial

Mada Masr
Mohamed Fahmy's release from prison 'imminent,' says Canadian FM

Monday Feb. 2, 2015

Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy’s release from prison is “imminent,” Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told the Canadian press on Monday, according to the Agence France Presse.

Baird’s spokesperson confirmed that Fahmy would soon go free, but did not provide further details.
The Canadian CTV news channel reported that Fahmy has relinquished his Egyptian nationality in order to meet the requirements for deportation. Egyptian law does not allow the deportation of dual nationals.

Fahmy would be able to reenter Egypt in the future and reapply for Egyptian citizenship at a later time, according to CTV. He had previously maintained that he would refuse to give up his Egyptian passport, but finally conceded when authorities told him this was his only way out, CTV reported.

The Interior Ministry released on Tuesday an image of Fahmy's agreement to renounce citizenship, dated January 25, 2014. 

Australian correspondent Peter Greste — who was imprisoned alongside Fahmy on the same charges stemming from their work with the Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera English — was released from prison and deported to Australia on Sunday.

Canadian diplomats reportedly met with Egyptian officials to push for Fahmy’s deportation the following day.

Greste’s deportation was in accordance with Law 140 (2014), following approval from the Cabinet and the prosecutor general. The law allows the deportation of foreigners at any point during their prosecution or detention at the request of their home countries.

Fahmy’s family already submitted an application for his deportation after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi passed the decree last November.

Fahmy and Greste were arrested with Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed on December 29, 2013, while reporting on the violent aftermath of former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster for Al Jazeera English. They were charged with aiding a terrorist organization and spreading false news with the aim of destabilizing the country.

The three men were convicted of all charges in June and sentenced to seven years in maximum-security prison. Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years on accusations of possessing a bullet at the time of his arrest.

In the midst of international outcry against the verdict, Sisi insisted that the Egyptian judiciary is an independent entity, and he would not interfere in its rulings. However, he later gave statements acknowledging that “the sentencing of several journalists had a very negative effect, and we had nothing to do with it.”

He added that he wished the journalists had been deported after their arrest, rather than put on trial.

On January 1, the Court of Cassation accepted the defendants’ appeal and ordered a retrial for the three men. With Greste deported and Fahmy allegedly on the verge of returning to Canada, Mohamed alone will remain behind bars in Cairo’s Tora Prison as he awaits retrial.

No comments: