Canada dropped ball, he says
On his first day out of a Cairo prison, Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy launched a scathing attack on the Canadian government and his employer, satellite news broadcaster Al-Jazeera.
Fahmy’s release on bail after more than a year behind bars wasn’t expected until Saturday, but in an unexpected move authorities chose to let the 40-year-old walk out of a local police station in the early hours of Friday morning.
Fahmy’s retrial on charges of “spreading false news” to help the banned Muslim Brotherhood, a charge his Egyptian co-worker Baher Mohamed also faces, will begin on Feb. 23.
Fahmy had to pay about $41,000 bail, as he was considered a flight risk, and must report to a police station every day.
Hours after being freed, Fahmy tweeted a photo of himself and his fiancée, saying they were sitting on a patio at the Cairo Marriott Hotel, where he and two colleagues — Australian Peter Greste and Mohamed — were arrested in December 2013.
Greste was deported to Australia several weeks ago. Mohamed was also released on Friday.
“Free Sunshine at Cairo Marriott where it all started with my better half Marwa Omara,” Fahmy tweeted. “Till death do us part. Thank you.”
But Fahmy wasn’t thankful when asked about Canada’s efforts to free him and support from his employer.
“Even the Egyptians are asking my family: ‘Where are the Canadians?’ Is my dual citizenship an excuse to have a laid-back approach? I didn’t even want to drop my Egyptian citizenship but (Canadian authorities) told me this was the only way. But this is not even close to being over for me,’ he told The Independent.
“There was no one here from Al-Jazeera to pay for my bail — if my brother hadn’t helped me with money, I would have spent another two days in prison. For the first stage of our trial, they got the worst lawyers in Egypt to defend us.
“But now I’m out, I want to leave. “When (then Canadian foreign minister John) Baird came here, he said in public that if I was sent to Canada, I wouldn’t have to serve the rest of my prison sentence. Of course I wouldn’t. But this was a diplomatic error. Egypt is saying Peter and I are to be deported to finish our sentences abroad, there’s a lot of face-saving for Egypt. Then Baird goes and says this.”