Fahmy family pinning hopes on Baird, official urges tempered expectations

The family of an Egyptian-Canadian journalist imprisoned in Cairo is hoping that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s visit to the city on Thursday will mark “the finale” to Mohamed Fahmy’s quest for freedom.

The family of an Egyptian-Canadian journalist imprisoned in Cairo is hoping that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s visit to the city on Thursday will mark “the finale” to Mohamed Fahmy’s quest for freedom.

But a government official in Ottawa was tempering expectations Wednesday that Baird’s visit would immediately trigger Fahmy’s release.

Fahmy has spent more than a year in prison after he and two colleagues were arrested while working for satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English. After a trial widely denounced as a sham, the trio were convicted on terror-related charges they vehemently deny.

Baird’s visit to Cairo comes at a sensitive time — a retrial was ordered this month for Fahmy and his colleagues, and Egypt’s president has announced a new decree that gives him the power to deport foreigners convicted or accused of crimes.

Those factors have given Fahmy and his family hope that they will soon be able to return to their home in Montreal.

“I believe Mr. Baird’s visit should be the finale,” Fahmy’s brother Adel told The Canadian Press in an interview. “We are genuinely hoping that he reaches a resolution and announces that Mohamed will be deported to Canada.”

Baird will be meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on Thursday, where he is expected to raise Fahmy’s case, after which the two will participate in a news conference.

It is there that Fahmy’s family hopes for some indication that their ordeal is nearing an end.

“We have received signals and confirmation from both Canadian and Egyptian senior officials that the deportation process is in its final stages,” said Fahmy’s brother. “So we expect that these final stages are concluded.”

But a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Canadian Press that things may not proceed quite that quickly.

“We’re not expecting necessarily that (Baird) is going to announce the release or anything like that when he’s there,” said the official, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Baird’s two-day trip to Egypt, the official stressed, is part of the country’s regular engagement with Egypt “writ large.”

It remains unclear just how Fahmy’s deportation process might play out in practical terms. If he is deported as a convicted criminal under Egyptian law, it’s not known when he will become a free man in Canada. But his family is staying positive.

“The Egyptians may provide to the Canadians information on how they want to handle this,” Fahmy’s brother said.

“The law is very clear that if this person is not a threat to national security, then he could be deported, tried or finish his sentence at any time of the judicial process.”

Fahmy himself is tense but optimistic, his family said.

“He’s anxious but he’s very hopeful,” his brother said. “He’s just ready to go, basically.”

On Wednesday, Baird was in the tourist city of Luxor, where he met with young Egyptians to discuss the country’s future and announced $20 million worth of funding to “support to encourage economic growth and empower women and young people in Egypt,” said a statement released by his office in Ottawa.

The official told The Canadian Press that the funding announcement was part of planned engagement with Egypt and should not be viewed as any kind of quid-pro-quo to help win Fahmy’s release.

Just Posted

Trans Mountain CEO says shovels could be in ground on pipeline by September

CALGARY — The CEO of the Crown corporation building the Trans Mountain… Continue reading

Alberta government looking to speed up job accreditation for foreign workers

EDMONTON — The Alberta government wants to ensure that foreign-trained professionals and… Continue reading

Tax credits, penalizing big polluters, key to Conservative climate plan

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says his climate plan will be… Continue reading

Trudeau promises to legislate implementation of UNDRIP if re-elected

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising that a re-elected Liberal… Continue reading

Make passports free to ease new no-fly list measures, federal panel suggests

Ottawa should consider making passports free to everyone for a year to… Continue reading

WATCH: New RDC president has three decades of experience working at colleges and universities

Peter Nunoda says he’s ‘excited’ to help transition the college into a university

Trans Mountain CEO says shovels could be in ground on pipeline by September

CALGARY — The CEO of the Crown corporation building the Trans Mountain… Continue reading

Alberta government looking to speed up job accreditation for foreign workers

EDMONTON — The Alberta government wants to ensure that foreign-trained professionals and… Continue reading

Tax credits, penalizing big polluters, key to Conservative climate plan

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says his climate plan will be… Continue reading

Trudeau promises to legislate implementation of UNDRIP if re-elected

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising that a re-elected Liberal… Continue reading

Make passports free to ease new no-fly list measures, federal panel suggests

Ottawa should consider making passports free to everyone for a year to… Continue reading

Canada resettled more refugees than any other country in 2018, UN says

OTTAWA — As the number of displaced people worldwide reaches modern highs,… Continue reading

Trudeau to meet Pelosi, McConnell, as well as Trump in Washington

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Nancy Pelosi, President Donald… Continue reading

Acts of kindness emerge at chaotic Raptors rally derailed by shooting

TORONTO — When gunshots sparked panic and chaos at a massive outdoor… Continue reading

Most Read