The family of an Egyptian-Canadian journalist imprisoned in Cairo is hoping that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s visit to the city on Thursday, Jan. 15, will mark “the finale” to Mohamed Fahmy’s quest for freedom.
But a government official in Ottawa was tempering expectations Wednesday that Baird’s visit would immediately trigger Fahmy’s release.
“We’re not expecting necessarily that [Baird] is going to announce the release or anything like that when he’s there,” said the official, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Fahmy has spent more than a year in prison after he and two colleagues were arrested while working for satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English. After a trial widely denounced as a sham, the trio were convicted on terror-related charges they vehemently deny.
Baird’s visit to Cairo comes at a sensitive time—a retrial was ordered this month for Fahmy and his colleagues, and Egypt’s president has announced a new decree that gives him the power to deport foreigners convicted or accused of crimes.
Those factors have given Fahmy and his family hope that they will soon be able to return to their home in Montreal.
“I believe Mr. Baird’s visit should be the finale,” Fahmy’s brother Adel said. “We are genuinely hoping that he reaches a resolution and announces that Mohamed will be deported to Canada.”