SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in Egypt on Thursday that Canada hopes for a resolution “sooner rather than later” in the case of imprisoned Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who has spent more than a year behind bars in Cairo after he and two colleagues were arrested while working for news broadcaster Al Jazeera English. Their imprisonment is widely seen as linked to a conflict between Egypt and Qatar, which funds the Doha-based Al Jazeera. Rights groups have demanded the release of the journalists, calling the trial a sham and saying the prosecution failed to produce any evidence. “I think the minister has an understanding of how important this is to me, how important this is to all Canadians,” Baird said during his visit to Cairo in which he met with his Egyptian counterpart.
Here are some key dates for Mohamed Fahmy:
— 1991: Fahmy, who was born in Egypt in 1974, and his family move to Canada. They spend years living in Montreal and Vancouver before Fahmy leaves the country to pursue journalism. He obtains his Canadian citizenship during his time in Canada. His journalism career sees him cover stories for major media outlets such as CNN and the New York Times.
— September 2013: Fahmy takes over as acting bureau chief of Al Jazeera’s English-language channel in Cairo. Within days of taking the reins, Fahmy raised concerns about the security status of the network’s journalists working in Egypt.
— Dec. 29, 2013: Egyptian authorities arrest Fahmy and two of his Al Jazeera colleagues, Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed. The trio were accused of supporting the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, a banned organization affiliated with ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. They were also charged with fabricating footage to undermine Egypt’s national security. Egyptian authorities have contended that Al Jazeera is biased in favour of Morsi and his supporters, an allegation the network denies.
— Jan. 13, 2014: More than 50 news organizations, including The Associated Press, call on Egyptian authorities to release the detained journalists. In a statement, the organizations say: “We strongly believe that upholding the rights of journalists and permitting the free flow of information is vital to bringing about greater understanding and serves the best interests of all Egyptians and the world.”
— Feb. 20, 2014: The trial for Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed gets underway in Cairo. The three journalists plead not guilty and shout from the dock that their prison conditions are “psychologically unbearable.”
— June 23, 2014: The court convicts the three journalists, sentencing Greste and Fahmy to seven years in prison and Mohammed to 10 years. The verdict brings a wave of international condemnation and calls for newly elected President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to intervene.
— June 24, 2014: After critics voice concerns that the Canada’s federal government hasn’t reacted forcefully enough to the verdict against Fahmy, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says his department is working to secure the journalist’s release. He cautions, however, that “bullhorn diplomacy” will do more harm than good.
— June 25, 2014: Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks out against the verdict, saying Canada is “deeply concerned” by the court decision and sentence handed down against Fahmy and his colleagues.
— July 6, 2014: El-Sissi acknowledges for the first time, in comments to editors of Egyptian media outlets, that the heavy sentences had a “very negative” impact on his country’s reputation, saying he wished the three were never put on trial.
— July 23, 2014: The judge releases his reasoning for his sentence, saying the journalists were brought together “by the devil” to destabilize the country. The main evidence was footage produced by the journalists that included voices critical of the government.
— Nov. 12, 2014: El-Sissi issues a new decree granting him the power to deport foreign defendants convicted or accused of crimes, a move that could allow him to free the imprisoned journalists. Fahmy’s case remains something of a grey area, however, since he holds both Canadian and Egyptian citizenship.
— Nov. 20, 2014: El-Sissi says in an interview with France 24 that a presidential pardon is “being examined” for the three journalists.
— December 2014: Fahmy’s lawyers write a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird urging them to fight for the journalist’s release.
— Jan. 1, 2015: Egypt’s equivalent of a Court of Appeal orders a retrial in the case after a hearing that lasts only minutes. The three journalists are not granted bail.
— Jan. 6, 2015: Fahmy’s family says deportation papers are being prepared for the journalist, adding they hope a pending visit from Foreign Affairs Minister Baird will help speed up Fahmy’s release and departure from Egypt
— Jan. 15, 2015: Baird travels to Cairo to meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the latest in a series of meetings held with his Egyptian counterpart over the past few months.
– See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/world/key-dates-for-imprisoned-egyptian-canadian-journalist-mohamed-fahmy-1.1731848#sthash.e5h8sj8n.dpuf