Fahmy urges Canada to do more for cit­i­zens abroad

Toronto Star - - ELECTION 2015 - DIANA ME­HTA

In the midst of a heated fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign, a Cana­dian jour­nal­ist who fought terror charges in Egypt for nearly two years will be re­turn­ing to Canada with a clear mes­sage for all par­ties vy­ing to form the next gov­ern­ment: Ot­tawa needs to do more to help cit­i­zens de­tained abroad.

Mo­hamed Fahmy in­sists he doesn’t want to get too po­lit­i­cal, but he does want to trig­ger a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion on the is­sue when he ar­rives in Toronto in the com­ing days.

“I will start a con­struc­tive de­bate about the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the case and how for­eign pol­icy in deal­ing with such emer­gen­cies could be im­proved to pro­tect Cana­di­ans who could be in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion like mine, or worse,” he told The Cana­dian Press in an in­ter­view.

Fahmy and two col­leagues were ar­rested in Cairo in De­cem­ber 2013, while work­ing for satel­lite news broad­caster Al Jazeera English and faced widely de­nounced charges.

An ar­du­ous le­gal bat­tle in­volv­ing two tri­als and a year in prison for Fahmy fi­nally came to an end when he was abruptly par­doned by Egypt’s pres­i­dent just over a week ago.

While thank­ful for the ef­forts of the Cana­dian am­bas­sador and con­sular staff in Cairo, Fahmy ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment with what he sug­gested were very “mild” ef­forts by Ot­tawa to se­cure his re­lease.

Mo­hamed Fahmy said he wants to start a “con­struc­tive de­bate” about how for­eign pol­icy can be im­proved.

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