National human rights group calls for ‘decisive’ government action for Canadian journalist sentenced by Egyptian kangaroo court

-For Immediate Release-

(Ottawa – June 23, 2014) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group, again calls on the federal government to take decisive action to secure the release of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy.

In a long awaited decision, the Canadian-Egyptian Cairo bureau chief for Al Jazeera English was sentenced to seven years on what are widely believed to be politically motivated charges of spreading false news to undermine Egyptian national security and for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

« The verdict is extremely disappointing. We are cognizant of the efforts of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance but it is time to call a spade a spade. A fair trial is not possible in Egypt at this time. We are calling on the Canadian government, in coordination with its multi-lateral partners, to bring to bear real diplomatic pressure to secure the release of Mr. Fahmy, » says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.

Amnesty International Canada has called Fahmy a prisoner of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression as a journalist.

« The involvement of our government is required to protect the rights of Canadians around the world and this responsibility should not be taken lightly. Canada has signaled a willingness to work with the current regime in Egypt. Any relationship must be used to secure respect of basic human rights including freedom of the press and the protection of journalists, » adds Gardee.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird visited Egypt this past April.

« The Canadian government has a duty to protect and safeguard its citizens from arbitrary arrest and trumped up charges. Canadians are watching the government’s handling of Mr. Fahmy’s case closely. »

Other Canadians being held on dubious claims, according to Amnesty International, include Bashir Makhtal held in Ethiopia since 2007 and Huseyin Celil held in China since 2006.

The NCCM is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit grassroots organization that is a leading voice for Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.

CONTACT: Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director, 613.254.9704 or 613.853.4111