Canadian reporter held in Egypt stays hopeful
The Canadian PressTuesday, June 17, 2014
CAIRO - An Egyptian-Canadian journalist for broadcaster Al-Jazeera who has been imprisoned in Egypt for nearly six months was hopeful Tuesday that the release of another reporter for the Qatar-based network meant he too would soon be freed.
Mohamed Fahmy spoke from a private hospital where he had a medical checkup on his shoulder, an injury that's worsened during his time behind bars.
"We are very confident we are going to be next," said Fahmy as he stepped out of a prison car, handcuffed to a policeman.
"We have rebuffed everything that they brought against us (during the trial)."
Fahmy and two other Al-Jazeera English journalists — Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — are on trial for terrorism-related charges, the first such case against reporters in Egypt. The verdict in the trial that began in February is expected on Monday.
Fahmy and his colleagues are accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, a charge they've dismissed as baseless.
They are charged with providing a platform for the group and Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted from office last year following protests against him. The three have been imprisoned since Dec. 29.
Six other Al-Jazeera staffers, including two Britons, are being tried in absentia. The case has caused an outcry among journalists and rights groups, who say their prosecution was politicized and undermines freedom of expression in Egypt.
The prosecution was a reflection of the tension between Egyptian authorities and the Al-Jazeera network.
The Egyptian government accuses Al-Jazeera of being biased toward Islamists. The network denies the allegations against it and its detained staffers.
Separately, Egyptian authorities had detained Abdullah Elshamy, an Al-Jazeera Arabic reporter imprisoned since August without charges after he was swept up with protesters following the violent dispersal of a pro-Morsi sit-in that left hundreds dead.
On Sunday, Egypt's top prosecutor ordered the release of Elshamy citing "health conditions." The 26-year-old reporter started a hunger strike over 100 days ago to protest his detention.
Elshamy was released on Tuesday, looking frail as he left a police station in a northern Cairo suburb.
Meanwhile, Fahmy appeared upbeat in hospital on Tuesday, hoping the release of Elshamy was a sign he too may be released. He said he considered his case a "misunderstanding," and wished authorities wouldn't let the case continue to harm Egypt's name.
Fahmy has been the most outspoken against the charges during his trial. He has submitted letters to the court from such some prominent figures in Egypt, such as former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who oversaw the committee that drafted Egypt's current constitution.
Moussa wrote that Fahmy was "known as competent, has integrity and is objective."
Fahmy has also complained that medical negligence prevented his injured shoulder from healing properly. Authorities finally allowed him to seek private medical care while in custody.
On Tuesday, a new report showed that he would need surgery to fix a fractured bone.
Fahmy's family moved to Canada in 1991. He lived in Montreal and Vancouver for years before eventually moving abroad for work, which included covering stories for the New York Times and CNN.