CAIRO: Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird is in Egypt to lobby for the release of Egyptian-Canadian citizen Mohamed Fahmy, an Al Jazeera journalist jailed in Egypt, CBC News reported Monday.
Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian, has been imprisoned since December 2013 for “spreading false news” in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, along with reporters Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed.
The journalists’ initial 7 to 10-year prison term was overturned Jan. 1, but a date for their retrial is yet to be set. The have defendants denied their charges, and their trial and verdict have been widely condemned by worldwide media and human rights organizations.
Baird, who arrived in Egypt Monday, will discuss Fahmy’s release with top government officials, including President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, sources told CBC News.
Sisi has repeatedly said he would have preferred the journalists to have been deported rather than face trial, and finally passed a decree in November allowing him to extradite non-Egyptian convicts to their home countries to be tried or serve a sentence. Journalist Baher Mohamed, however, has no other nationality except Egyptian, and would not qualify for deportation.
Fahmy’s family is also seeking his release on health grounds; his fiancée Marwa Omara told The Cairo Post Jan. 8 he needs to undergo an operation for his broken arm and receive hepatitis C treatment.
Baird will also tackle security issues in the Middle East with the Egyptian authorities, and plans to meet with religious leader, according to CBC News.