Canada says release of Al-Jazeera journalist is 'imminent'

AP News
Posted: Feb 03, 2015 7:39 AM
Canada says release of Al-Jazeera journalist is 'imminent'

TORONTO (AP) — Canada's foreign minister said the release of Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy from a prison in Egypt is "imminent."

Fahmy, a dual Egyptian-Canadian citizen, has relinquished his Egyptian citizenship as prerequisite to his deportation, his brother said.

Foreign Minister John Baird spoke Monday to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. a day after Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste of Australia was released after more than a year in prison. Baird gave no specific time frame for Fahmy's release, and his spokesman declined further comment.

Greste, Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed were arrested in December 2013 and later convicted over their coverage of the violent crackdown on Islamist protests that year. They were sentenced to between seven and 10 years.

Baird spoke with his Egyptian counterpart on Sunday and said he welcomed Greste's release. He said he remained hopeful that Fahmy's case will be resolved in "short order."

Fahmy's brother, Adel Fahmy, said authorities gave him a choice: "dropping the nationality or his freedom."

"It was a very difficult decision. Mohamed is very proud and comes from a patriotic family of high ranking military and policemen that have defended this country and fought its wars," Adel Fahmy said.

He said many of those family members are offended and upset at Mohamed for dropping his nationality and don't want to even say goodbye to him.

Adel Fahmy said his brother was devastated but his fiance and his mother told him do it. He said authorities told his brother he would be allowed to return as a tourist.

Fahmy's mother sent a public letter to Egypt's president over the weekend, calling her son an "innocent" man in urgent need of medical treatment.

Egyptian authorities had accused the three Al-Jazeera journalists of providing a platform for ousted president Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, now declared a terrorist organization. But authorities provided no concrete evidence.

It remained unclear what would happen to Mohammed, an Egyptian citizen.


Associated Press writer Sarah el Deeb in Cairo contributed to this story.