‘Continuing to detain Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy is completely unjust and unwarranted’ - Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui
The continuing plight of Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy must not be forgotten as their colleague Peter Greste is deported from Egypt today, said Amnesty International.
Amnesty has been calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all three men since their arrest in December 2013.
Peter Greste, an Australian national, and Mohamed Fahmy, a dual Egyptian-Canadian national, had sought deportation under new Egyptian legislation that permits the transfer of foreign nationals to their home countries to face trial or serve their sentences in cases of the “highest interest of the state”. The men’s arrest and conviction has caused an international outcry.
The convictions of all three men were overturned by the Court of Cassation on 1 January on procedural grounds but they were kept in detention pending a re-trial. All of the men had been serving seven-year sentences for broadcasting “false news” and involvement with the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Mohamed Fahmy holds Egyptian and Canadian citizenship and there are hopes he may be deported to Canada. Presidential sources have reportedly said Mr Fahmy would be deported to Canada after his dual Egyptian nationality has been dropped. Meanwhile, Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian national with three young children, is not eligible for deportation. Mohamed has already missed the birth of his youngest son in August because he was in prison.
Amnesty continues to call for the charges against all three men to be dropped.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:
“The news that Peter Greste will finally be allowed to leave Egypt after more than a year in prison comes as a welcome relief, but nothing can make up for his ordeal.
“It is vital that in the celebratory fanfare surrounding his deportation the world does not forget the continuing ordeal of Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy who remain behind bars at Tora prison in Cairo.
“All three men are facing trumped-up charges and were forced to endure a farcical trial marred by irregularities. Continuing to detain Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy is completely unjust and unwarranted.
“It has become increasingly clear that the journalists have been used as political pawns in a dispute between the authorities of Egypt and the Qatar government, which owns the Al Jazeera network. It is unacceptable that the lives of these men have been so carelessly toyed with.”
Mass arrests in ongoing crackdown
At least 16,000 people have been detained as part of a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt in the past 18 months, with activists estimating that the true figure is much higher. Those targeted include government opponents and critics, as well as media workers and human rights activists. Meanwhile, courts have acquitted security forces of killing detainees and thrown out criminal charges against former president Hosni Mubarak for conspiring to crush the “25 January Revolution”.