By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday June 25, 2014
Family of jailed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy blames Harper for outcome of ‘sham’ trial in Egypt
Fadel and Wafaa Fahmy entered a courtroom in Cairo Monday to hear the verdict on their son, journalist Mohamed Fahmy, expecting an acquittal and a prompt return to their home in Montreal where the family has lived for 23 years.
Instead, a surprise finding of guilt on terrorism-related charges and a sentence of seven years in a harsh prison sent Mrs. Fahmy into turmoil, bursting into tears and stomping her feet on the floor.
The entire family was stunned, most of all Mohamed Fahmy himself, the Cairo bureau chief with broadcaster Al Jazeera English. The dual Canadian-Egyptian citizen was found guilty along with two journalist colleagues, an Australian and an Egyptian, of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in Egypt, and with fabricating news reports that undermine Egypt’s security.
On Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he will not interfere in court rulings, despite an international landslide of condemnation and calls for el-Sissi to intervene. Egypt’s constitution gives the president the right to issue a pardon or commute the sentences.
He said he called the justice minister late Monday to repeat that sentiment, despite what he described as debate over the rulings against the journalists.
After a trial and verdict, declared by Amnesty International to be “a complete sham” where no evidence of a nefarious conspiracy was heard, Mr. Fahmy was instead declared guilty and returned to his cell, but not before he angrily called out from behind the bars of the prisoners’ cage: “I swear they will pay for this.”
The anger was a reflection of how crushed his brother was by the verdict, said Mr. Fahmy’s brother, Sherif.
“It’s insane. There is nothing that makes any kind of sense at all. The evidence is insane,” Sherif said in an interview from Kuwait. “It was a very, very heartbreaking scene. We were very optimistic. We never thought this was coming.”
Sherif said he holds Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, responsible for the outcome because the Canadian government failed to aggressively address the case.
“If you compare what Canada has done to what the Australian, English and Dutch have done, it is not much. [Mr. Harper] did not mention Mohammed once,” Sherif said. (Source: National Post)