Stephen Harper reaches out to Egypt over Mohamed Fahmy
PMO says Harper has sent letters to Egyptian president
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office said Tuesday he has sent letters to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about jailed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, although his office would not offer details about the timing of the correspondence.
The Egyptian government has announced a retrial for Fahmy, who is accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood political party and fabricating footage, starting Thursday.
Fahmy's family responded to the apparent change of position by starting an online campaign on Monday, #HarperCallEgypt, to try and push the prime minister to urgently lobby for his release.
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Former foreign affairs minister John Baird said on Feb. 2 that he had talked with his Egyptian counterpart and had been told Fahmy's deportation to Canada was "imminent," but days passed without his release. Egypt made the announcement of a retrial on Sunday.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office said Harper has "communicated" with el-Sisi on the matter, later clarifying that he had sent letters.
The Prime Minister's Office said ministers and officials continue to raise Fahmy's case with the Egyptian government, but wouldn't share any other details, including when the letters were sent.
Fahmy, 40, was arrested in December 2013 with two of his Al-Jazeera colleagues and sentenced to seven years in prison after a much-criticized trial.
One of them, Australian Peter Greste, was freed earlier this month under a new Egyptian law that allows el-Sisi to deport foreigners either accused or convicted of crimes.
Fahmy has given up the Egyptian part of his dual citizenship in hopes of following Greste out of the country, but his family said news of the retrial has lowered their hopes that will happen.
His lawyer, Amal Clooney, has requested a meeting with el-Sisi or his officials "as soon as possible" to talk about why he is being retried instead of being released.