Who is Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, and how did he find himself sentenced to seven years in an Egyptian prison, apparently for practising conventional news gathering and reporting? Here are five things you need to know.
- Mohamed Fahmy sentenced to seven years
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- Mohamed Fahmy's family denies Egyptian allegations
Who is Mohamed Fadel Fahmy?
He is a television producer who has worked for Al-Jazeera and CNN and has contributed to the New York Times. He holds dual Canadian and Egyptian citizenship. When he was arrested, he was acting as Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Cairo.
How is he Canadian?
His parents moved to Canada from Egypt in 1991 when he was a child. He became a Canadian citizen with them.
What was his crime?
He and three Al-Jazeera colleagues were arrested on Dec. 29, 2013, at the Cairo Marriott hotel, where they had set up a temporary news bureau to cover protests against the ouster of then-president Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who had won a general elections and then was removed by the army after a year in power.
The journalists were accused of broadcasting "false news" and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been declared a terrorist group. It was alleged they had fabricated footage to undermine Egypt's national security and to make it appear the country was facing civil war.
What happened when he was jailed?
He and his colleagues failed to obtain release on bail and were kept in an Egyptian prison.
Earlier this year, there were protests planned over the arrests in more than 25 cities, including Toronto and Montreal, the Globe and Mail reported.
Western journalists described Fahmy's actions as straightforward journalism. Nervana Mahmoud, a blogger in Egypt, tweeted that she found Fahmy's coverage critical of the Muslim Brotherhood, but balanced and fair, the New York Times reported.
CBC News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge said, "Clearly in this situation, we are seeing solid, award-winning journalists who weren’t allowed to do their job. So now we have, instead of people telling a story that the world wants to hear, we have people sitting in jail.”
What have other governments done?
In April, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told the Globe and Mail he had raised the matters of Fahmy's health (he had an injured shoulder) and the importance of a fair and timely trial with his counterpart in Cairo. He also met with the Fahmy family in Cairo. Baird indicated Fahmy's dual citizenship hadn’t been an issue.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he talked about the trial Sunday when he met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, and el-Sisi promised a re-evaluation of the judicial process. Kerry didn't elaborate.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday he spoke with el-Sisi over the weekend and told him that Australian correspondent Peter Greste, who was also sentenced, was innocent. "I did make the point that as an Australian journalist, Peter Greste would not have been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, he would have simply been reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood."