Family of imprisoned journalist launches ‘HarperCallEgypt’ campaign

The family of a Canadian journalist languishing in an Egyptian prison launched an online campaign Monday, urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene in the case of Mohamed Fahmy.

TORONTO — The family of a Canadian journalist languishing in an Egyptian prison launched an online campaign Monday, urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene in the case of Mohamed Fahmy.

Fahmy’s family called on supporters to use the hashtag “HarperCallEgypt” in their efforts to encourage the prime minister to urgently lobby for 40-year-old’s release this week.

The initiative came a day after Egyptian authorities announced a date for Fahmy’s retrial — a move that shocked him and his family, who had previously been told by then-foreign affairs minister John Baird that his release was “imminent.”

The new trial is expected to begin on Thursday and Fahmy’s family said they are “extremely worried” that his release could be delayed indefinitely.

“We’re just in shock. We don’t understand how this happened and why,” Fahmy’s brother, Adel Fahmy, told The Canadian Press. “Why does my brother have to go through all this torment?”

A spokeswoman for Lynne Yelich, junior minister responsible for consular affairs, said Prime Minister Harper has “personally” raised Fahmy’s case with the highest level of the Egyptian leadership.

“We understand this is an upsetting time for the family. We continue to call for Mohamed Fahmy’s immediate release,” Erica Meekes said in an email.

Among those who have called on Harper to intervene in Fahmy’s case is Tarek Loubani, a Canadian doctor who was also jailed in Egypt in 2013 along with his filmmaker colleague, John Greyson.

“I write to you as a Canadian who wants to see my government speak out for a fellow Canadian who is currently in jail in Egypt,” Loubani wrote in an email to the prime minister that was obtained by The Canadian Press.

“I also write to you as a former prisoner of the same jail that Fahmy is in now. You got me and John Greyson out of jail through the strong and unequivocal actions of your government. Your words meant something then, and they mean something now.”

Loubani and Greyson spent two months behind bars after their arrest and beating during an anti-government protest in Cairo. They both credited Harper and his government for relentlessly pushing for their freedom.

Fahmy, meanwhile, has been behind bars for more than a year.

He and two colleagues — Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — were working for satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English when they were arrested on Dec. 29, 2013.

They were accused of supporting the banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. They were also charged with fabricating footage to undermine Egypt’s national security. They denied all the allegations against them.

After a trial that was internationally denounced as a sham, Fahmy and Greste were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years.

Following an appeal in January, their case was slated for a retrial — though a date had not been set and Fahmy’s family hoped diplomatic efforts would result in a release.

Greste was abruptly freed last Sunday under new legislation that allows Egypt’s president to deport foreigners convicted or accused of crimes. Fahmy gave up his dual Egyptian citizenship with the hope of being released under the same legislation, but that hope was diminished by the prospect of Thursday’s retrial.

“It means that he cannot be deported, it is in the jurisdiction of the court,” Adel Fahmy said. “It means the Canadian government has failed us.”

Fahmy himself has been “going through an emotional roller-coaster,” his brother said.

“He’s angry. He’s just shocked,” he said.

Fahmy moved to Canada with his family in 1991, living in Montreal and Vancouver for years before eventually moving abroad for work, which included covering stories for the New York Times and CNN.

He took over as the bureau chief for Al Jazeera’s English-language channel in Cairo in September 2013.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,183 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

50.5% of all active cases are variants of concern

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie pose for a photo at the Mirror restaurant. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Alberta Health Services delivers ‘closure order’ to Mirror restaurant

Alberta Health Services says it has delivered a closure order to a… Continue reading

Flags bearers hold the Canadian flag high during the Flags of Remembrance ceremony in Sylvan Lake in this October file photo. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
New project to pay tribute to Canadians killed in Afghanistan

Flags of Remembrance scheduled for Sept. 11

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
Security and police block the entrance to GraceLife Church as a fence goes up around it near Edmonton on Wednesday April 7, 2021. The Alberta government has closed down and fenced off a church that has been charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules. Alberta Health Services, in a statement, says GraceLife church will remain closed until it shows it will comply with public-health measures meant to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hundreds gather to support Alberta church shut down for ignoring COVID-19 orders

SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. — Hundreds of people are gathered outside an Alberta… Continue reading

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces is developing contingency plans to keep COVID-19 from affecting its ability to defend the country and continue its missions overseas amid concerns potential adversaries could try to take advantage of the crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian special forces supported major Iraqi military assault on ISIL last month

OTTAWA — Some Canadian soldiers supported a major military offensive last month… Continue reading

A woman pays her repects at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The joint public inquiry in response to the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced a mandate that includes a probe of the RCMP response as well as the role of gender-based violence in the tragedy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Creating permanent memorial to Nova Scotia mass shooting victims a delicate task

PORTAPIQUE, N.S. — Creating a memorial for those killed in Nova Scotia’s… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Erin O’Toole says ‘I didn’t hide who I was’ running for Conservative leader

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole assured Conservative supporters that he never hid who… Continue reading

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, second from left, celebrates his goal with teammates, from left to right, Matthew Tkachuk, Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson, of Sweden, during second period NHL hockey action against the Edmonton Oilers, in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Jacob Markstrom earns shutout as Flames blank Oilers 5-0 in Battle of Alberta

CALGARY — It took Sean Monahan breaking out of his goal-scoring slump… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia's opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan's government, but they say Monday's throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province's economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s opposition parties acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented… Continue reading

A grizzly bear walks on a treadmill as Dr. Charles Robbins, right, offers treats as rewards at Washington State University's Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center in this undated handout photo. Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails like those commonly used by people, which can affect land management practices in wild areas, says an expert who has written a paper on their travel patterns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Anthony Carnahan *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Grizzly bears prefer walking on gentle slopes at a leisurely pace like humans: study

VANCOUVER — Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails… Continue reading

FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Moderna said Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, its COVID-19 shot provides strong protection against the coronavirus that's surging in the U.S. and around the world. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
The COVID-19 wasteland: searching for clues to the pandemic in the sewers

OTTAWA — When Ottawa Public Health officials are trying to decide whether… Continue reading

Most Read