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Family of Mohamed Fahmy irked that Prime Minister Stephen Harper hasn’t spoken directly to Egyptian president about his release

Fahmy’s family says Harper hasn’t spoken with Egyptian president, PMO disputes claim

  • Updated
    5:54 pm, February 10th, 2015
  • 5:07 pm, February 10th, 2015

Nicole Ireland | QMI AGENCY

The family of jailed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy says Prime Minister Stephen Harper hasn’t spoken directly to the Egyptian president to ask for his release, but Harper’s spokesman says the two have communicated.

Speaking with QMI Agency by telephone from Cairo on Tuesday, Adel Fahmy said one of his brother’s lawyers had spoken with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s office earlier in the day and was told Harper hadn’t contacted el-Sissi at that time.

Harper spokesman Jason MacDonald later told QMI Agency the prime minister “has communicated with the (Egyptian) president on this case.”

But when asked when that communication occurred, and whether it was a personal phone call or written correspondence, MacDonald said he wouldn’t go further into the details.

Adel Fahmy said much of the communication between the Canadian government and Egypt has been via e-mail, fax or between spokesmen, but personal interaction is what’s required to get results.

Although former foreign affairs minister John Baird visited Egypt in January, Adel Fahmy said he didn’t meet with the president. Fahmy also expressed concern that Baird may have made a diplomatic error that could actually hurt his brother’s case.

At a Cairo news conference, he said, Baird told reporters Mohamed would not be prosecuted if he was deported to Canada.

He said his family was “shocked” Baird said that publicly because in Egyptian culture that could embarrass the government and affect its decision to deport his brother.

Canada’s foreign affairs department wouldn’t comment specifically on the family’s concern on Tuesday, saying in an e-mail: “We understand this is an upsetting time for the family. We continue to call for Mohamed Fahmy’s immediate release.”

According to Adel, Egyptian government officials had been in contact with Mohamed in prison and told him his only hope for release was to relinquish his Egyptian citizenship and be deported to Canada.

Fahmy said Canadian Embassy and consular officials gave the family “100%” assurances that Mohamed’s release was imminent, telling them to “pack your bags” to accompany him back to Canada.

After his visit, Baird also called Fahmy’s release “imminent.”

But days passed as family and friends waited anxiously. Then on Sunday, the Egyptian government dashed their hopes by announcing Fahmy would face a retrial on terrorism charges beginning Thursday.

The whole family is “devastated,” Adel said.

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