19 September 2015

#49 Jailed for Words

More problems defending journalists abroad. Mohamed Fahmy was a dual citizen of Canada and Egypt working for Al-Jazeera in Cairo when he was arrested following the coup against Mohamed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood had taken power in elections in 2012. Fahmy and his colleagues were charged with being members of a terrorist organization (as the new government had designated the Muslim Brotherhood), aiding and funding the group, broadcasting false news and reports of civil strife in Egypt, and operating without a licence.

He was sentenced to 7 years in prison and sent to a maximum security facility renowned for its terrible conditions. His legal team continued its work and eventually got an order for a new trial and for Mr. Fahmy to be released on bail. He also renounced his Egyptian citizenship, hoping to be able to take advantage of a law providing for the deportation of foreign citizens accused of crimes in Egypt.

Then came a new problem. He needed to replace his Canadian passport (in a country with checkpoints under martial law, you pretty much need to have your passport at all times) and the Canadian embassy wouldn’t issue him a new one because of the travel restrictions that are a part of his bail conditions. His legal team, and lawyers in Canada, are pretty clear that Canadian law allows the Minister responsible or the Prime Minister to issue a passport regardless of any travel restrictions that may have been imposed by a foreign court, and in this case, the government has shared its opinion that these charges would not be upheld in a Canadian court.

So why the inaction?

Further reading here

Trumped up charges and
the need of a new passport
Canada: (crickets)

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