Fahmy's family 'devastated' as retrial set to begin in Egypt Thursday

The brother of detained Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy says the family is 'shocked' and 'devastated' that a retrial has been set for him and another Al-Jazeera journalist jailed in Egypt.

Brother says family 'in shock' that journalist wasn't released

Hopes were raised that Mohamed Fahmy would be released soon after Egyptian officials freed his colleague, Australian Peter Greste, last week. (Heba Elkholy, El Shorouk/Canadian Press/Associated Press)

The brother of detained Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy says the family is "shocked" and "devastated" that a retrial has been set for him and another Al-Jazeera journalist jailed in Egypt.

Adel Fahmy told CBC News on Sunday that their lawyer, Amal Clooney, was told by the Canadian ambassador that there were "100 per cent" assurances that his brother's release was "a done deal."

"And today, when I heard the news, I heard it from the television. I was actually at the prosecutor's office trying to figure out why it has not been implemented yet," he said.

Fahmy said the Canadian government should have pushed harder with a "more aggressive approach" to free his brother. 

"Now my brother has to go through a circus of a retrial again. It's just unbearable," said Fahmy. "We are devastated. We literally had our bags were packed. We had a press conference room in Toronto booked for when my brother arrives so that Ms. Amal Clooney and him can start a press conference to highlight and celebrate his freedom."

Fahmy said the government was too soft in its reaction and accused them of employing "diplomatic rhetoric" by using phrases like "deeply concerned."

"The Americans don't even have a defendant in this case and when the verdict was announced, they said it was a 'draconian' verdict," he said.

He is now on paper fully Canadian.- — Adel Fahmy about his journalist brother

Fahmy said his brother renounced his Egyptian citizenship because authorities there had told him that was the best way he could gain release.

"He is now on paper fully Canadian," said Fahmy. "You know, we are a family that respects the values of the two constitutions and we grew up in Egypt and Canada.

"To be stripped of your nationality and be placed in the position of, 'It's either jail or your nationality,' it was not easy for him.

"Suddenly, he finds himself in a cage again in court," said Fahmy. "We don't have any sense of what went wrong whatsoever.

"It seems that the prosecutor didn't sign off on it," he said.

 Retrial set for Thursday

The session for the retrials has been set for Feb. 12, according to Mostafa Nagy, the lawyer for Egyptian journalist Baher Mohamed.

"Our next step is to start planning a defence again and hope we can, that he will be vindicated and we have to fight on and continue to fight this battle," said Fahmy.

"My brother considers it a battle against freedom of the press and he will continue to fight. We have no other choice," he said.

Mohamed Fahmy and Baher have been in a Cairo jail since December 2013, when they and Al-Jazeera colleague Australian journalist Peter Greste were arrested and accused of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.

Greste was freed on Feb. 1, although one month earlier a court had ordered a retrial for him and his two colleagues.

The three were sentenced to seven to 10 years on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organization.

Clooney has requested a meeting with Egypt's president and foreign minister to speak to them on Fahmy's behalf.

"Despite clear assurances that he would be released, Mr. Fahmy remains in detention in Egypt," Clooney said in a letter obtained by the media on Saturday.

The letter asks for a meeting with President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi or his officials "as soon as possible."

Clooney said lawyers for the journalist had been told after Greste was released and deported that Fahmy's release would be "imminent." Last Monday, former Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird also said Fahmy’s release was "imminent," but did not elaborate.

"Canada is deeply concerned with the announcement that a retrial date has been set despite assurances that Mr. Fahmy would be released along with his colleague, Peter Greste," Minister of State for Consular Affairs Lynne Yelich said in a statement Sunday.

"Canada calls for the immediate release of Mr. Fahmy. I have, along with former Minister Baird, continued to raise this government's concerns regarding Mr. Fahmy's case with senior Egyptian officials and I will continue to do so. We remain hopeful that Mr. Fahmy's case will be resolved in a timely manner," Yelich said.

Fahmy family statement on news of the retrial:

"Mohamed never requested that he drops his citizenship. The authorities visited him before the appeal hearing on January 1st. and made a deal with him to renounce it in return for his freedom claiming this was the only way out for him and Peter. It was one of the most difficult decisions he has ever taken that has left him demoralised.

Now, the general prosecutor is complicating matters even though both the presidency and the prime minister have expressed their desire to let him go as soon as possible

Yes, we are worried and we have been let down by the Canadian government's conservative approach in the handling of the case. That is also the feeling of the Egyptian officials and public figures sympathising with us who are shocked that the Canadian prime minister had not intervened yet to expedite matters while the Australian most senior official has done an outstanding job in the release of his colleague Peter Greste. Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, CJFE, Canadian media, and Fahmy and his lawyers have all called openly and privately on prime minister Harper to take a stand but he has failed us immensely. We are now doing the leg work ourselves as a family knocking the doors of the prosecutor, foreign ministry and presidency. Amal Clooney our lawyer is well respected here in the Egyptian diplomatic community and will be arriving to Cairo soon.

She had planned to fly from LA to Toronto to meet Fahmy upon his release but she hopes they can fly together out of Cairo toward freedom. The trial date on Feb 12th represents our worst nightmare, to have to go through another circus of a retrial."

With files from Reuters


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