Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy leaves Cairo prison on bail

By on February 13, 2015


Mohamed Fahmy in prison. Photo courtesy of Fahmy's Twitter account.
Mohamed Fahmy in prison. Photo courtesy of Fahmy’s Twitter account.

CAIRO — Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy has left a prison in Cairo hours after an Egyptian court ordered him released on bail.

Both his brother, Adel Fahmy, and Al-Jazeera English confirmed the news via Twitter late Thursday that Fahmy had been released.

Fahmy, who has spent more than a year in a Cairo prison on terror-related charges, moved closer to freedom hours earlier when the court granted his release on bail.

The surprise development prompted expressions of jubilation from Mohamed Fahmy’s family, although the 40-year-old’s legal battles aren’t quite over yet.

The retrial was put over to Feb. 23, and until then, lawyers said Fahmy and an Egyptian co-worker will have to report to a local police station every day.

Both Fahmy and colleague Baher Mohamed face terror-related charges that their families have called ridiculous.

One of their colleagues — Australian Peter Greste — was freed last Sunday under new legislation that lets Egypt’s president deport foreigners convicted or accused of crimes.

“We’re extremely happy because it’s unbelievable to have your brother back after 14 months, especially with such injustice and all the pain he’s endured,” Fahmy’s brother, Adel Fahmy, told The Canadian Press earlier Thursday.

“We still want full exoneration, if not, then deportation, and we still want Canada to pressure hard, but it was a step in the right direction.”

Fahmy’s family has been urging the Canadian government to push Egypt for the journalist’s release. They noted that bail was also granted to 11 other defendants caught up in the same case, who are mostly students accused of being involved with Egypt’s banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group.

“What happened today should not be mistaken for a result due to the Canadian pressure, because all the defendants were released on bail,” Fahmy’s brother said. “We still feel that the Canadian government is not applying the sufficient pressure.”

When asked about Canada’s efforts on Fahmy’s case, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday that his government had “been in contact with Egyptian authorities at all levels, including my level.”

“We will continue to press for his release. And we do remain optimistic that this case will be resolved,” Harper said.

Fahmy was the only defendant who was ordered to pay an amount equivalent to about C$41,000 for his release on bail, as he was considered a flight risk.

His family paid that amount within hours of the court hearing but had been told it would take until Saturday for paperwork to be processed for Fahmy to leave prison.

But now that he has left prison, it is unclear what this means for Fahmy’s efforts to leave Egypt under a new law that allows foreigners convicted of crimes to be deported.

“He has to finish off the trial here unless the deportation is granted,” Fahmy’s brother said. “But we don’t know when that’s actually going to happen.”

Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed were arrested while working for satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English in December 2013.

They were convicted last summer after a trial that was internationally denounced as a sham. A retrial was ordered after a successful appeal in early January.

Greste, who is now back home in Australia, called the bail decision a “huge step forward,” but added it was “not time to declare it over.”