Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird left for Egypt Monday bound for Egypt. He is expected to be in Cairo this Thursday. He will meet with government officials in an attempt to obtain the release of Mohamed Fahmy an Egyptian-Canadian journalist. Baird will discuss Fahmy's imprisonment with the Egyptian foreign minister, religious leaders, and even President el-Sisi.
Fahmy's parents moved to Canada from Egypt in 1991 and Fahmy became a Canadian with them. Fahmy is a television producer. He worked not only for Al Jazeera but for CNN. When he was arrested back in December of 2013 he was the Cairo bureau chief for Al Jazeera.
Under President el-Sisi, Egypt has passed draconian anti-terror laws that repress free speech. Other laws have resulted in the Muslim Brotherhood being declared a terrorist group. Anyone who writes anything positive about the group or criticizes the draconian actions against them is liable to be tried and convicted under anti-terror laws.
When Fahmy was arrested, he was accused of spreading false news and of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. His lawyers are attempting to have him released and deported to Canada. His fiancee, Marwa Omara, maintains that Fahmy is innocent. She has managed to obtain a visa to travel with Fahmy back to Canada should he be released.
Recently, an Egyptian appeals court ordered a retrial of three imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists one of whom is Fahmy.
Under a new law passed in Egypt in November, foreigners who are convicted or are suspects can be deported to their own countries for trial or sentencing. Fahmy's family hopes that this will happen in the case of Fahmy. An Egyptian official told the family that arrangement for the deportation of Fahmy to Canada was in its final phase.
Baird has previously claimed that Canada has been working behind the scenes to obtain Fahmy's release. Baird has had several meetings with Egyptian officials during which he has worked for Fahmy's release. Fahmy has been imprisoned for more than a year now. He was sentenced originally to seven years. According to a report on CTVnews Fahmy would have to agree to give up his Egyptian citizenship if he is deported to Canada. Al Jazeera has always denied the charges against Fahmy and his two colleagues. According to Al Jazeera, the three were arrested just for doing their job.