Al Jazeera, others urging Ottawa to help Mohamed Fahmy
Ottawa must do more to free journalist held in Cairo, group says
A coalition of media organizations says Ottawa isn't doing enough to free an Egyptian-Canadian journalist imprisoned in Cairo.
Mohamed Fahmy and two of his colleagues were working for satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English when they were arrested on Dec. 29.
He was charged late last month with allegedly using illegal equipment, broadcasting false news and being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt's military-led government has branded a terrorist organization.
Al Jazeera is demanding the release of its reporters, saying they were only doing their jobs.
In a news conference in Toronto, the Qatar-based company and several organizations, including Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, called for the federal government to aggressively push for Fahmy's release.
Filmmaker John Greyson, who was detained in Egypt last fall with his colleague Tarek Loubani, said Ottawa's intervention played a pivotal role in their release.
The government response has been far too meek in Fahmy's case, he said.
"In Mohamed's case, the Canadian government has done so little, as we've heard — merely repeating platitudes about consular services," Greyson said at the news conference.
"Mohamed deserves the same response from our government that our case received: demanding that the charges be dismissed and that he and the others be released."
Fahmy's brother, Sherif Fahmy, tweeted Wednesday that his brother and colleagues Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed had been moved to a lower-security prison with better conditions as a result of "foreign media pressure."
But Owen Watson, Al Jazeera English's executive producer for newsgathering, said the company is far from optimistic.
"We want the release of our journalists," he said. "There's no compromise on this."
Others who attended Thursday’s news conference in support of Fahmy and the other journalists included:
- Tony Burman, former managing director of Al Jazeera English.
- John Stackhouse, editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail.
- Tom Henheffer, executive director of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE).
- Michelle Shephard CJFE board member and Toronto Star national security reporter.
- Avi Lewis, journalist and CBC veteran.
- Dave Enders, friend and former colleague of Mohamed Fahmy.