Fahmy awaits verdict in unjust retrial

Photo: Hassan Ammar / AP (Mar.25)

Mohamed Fahmy & his fiancee Marwa outside Cairo courtroom (Photo: Hassan Ammar / AP – Mar.25)

While a lengthy retrial in a Cairo court continues, Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy is still waiting to know his fate.

Fahmy, who returns to court June 29 as lawyers for other defendants wrap up their closing arguments, says he is eager to clear his name.

He is confident that on the basis of the evidence—or lack thereof—against him, he should be acquitted.

But he knows that the trial is influenced by factors other than evidence, so he is nervous about the outcome. He is worried that Al Jazeera journalists will take the fall for violations committed by the network.

Fahmy says he wants his long and painful 18-month ordeal to be over so that he can get on with his life.

He’s faced two separate trials sandwiched around an appeal court ruling overturning his initial seven-year sentence, and spent more than 400 days in prison, including a month in solitary.

Earlier in June, defense lawyers for Mohamed Fahmy and his colleagues presented their closing arguments.

They refuted the claims made by the prosecution in this case, and argued that the initial arrest and the charge of spreading “false news” were unwarranted.

Defense lawyers noted in their arguments that:

  • there is no evidence Mohamed Fahmy has links to the Muslim Brotherhood
  • licensing or documentation was the responsibility of the employer, not the journalists
  • there was no evidence that footage of protests compromised national security

The defense also stated that the Egyptian judiciary had displayed a lack of understanding of journalism in this case. The lawyers noted that journalists, as part of their job, must get all points of view, and are not responsible for what interviewees say.

While in court, Mohamed addressed the judge directly, noting that he had filed a lawsuit against his employer Al Jazeera because of how they had handled his situation in Egypt.

As well, a lawyer for the journalists’ syndicate spoke before the judge, affirming that Mohamed Fahmy is an internationally recognized and award-winning journalist, and arguing that the court’s ruling in this retrial will have an impact for all journalists.

Here in Canada and around the world, supporters of Mohamed Fahmy and his colleagues continue to call for justice.

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In the news:

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Ziada acquitted; Fight continues for #FreePress

Photojournalist Ahmed Ziada was freed yesterday after 487 days behind bars.

Photojournalist Ahmed Ziada was freed yesterday after 487 days behind bars.

As we prepare for World Press Freedom Day, we are celebrating the news that Egyptian photojournalist Ahmed Ziada was acquitted yesterday after 487 days in jail.

Ziada’s release is a positive step, but the fight for freedom continues for other journalists who remain behind bars in Egypt and around the world.

At the World Press Freedom Day rally on May 3, we’ll be joining supporters calling for the release of imprisoned journalists, like Jason Rezaian and Shawkan.

Speakers at the rally include:

  • Peter Klein (Director of UBC School of Journalism)
  • Deputy Mayor Andrea Reimer (City Of Vancouver)
  • Updates from Jason Rezaian‘s family (in person), Shawkan‘s brother and Mohamed Fahmy (recorded in Cairo)

And, as part of World Press Freedom Day, we’re encouraging supporters in Canada to contact Prime Minister Harper to advocate on behalf on Mohamed Fahmy (see below for the details).

As I continue to battle for my own exoneration, I am proud to…remind world leaders that a free press is a fundamental core of the true democracy they promote,” said Mohamed Fahmy in a press release for the rally.

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 6.46.25 AMJOIN THE FIGHT for #FreePress! 

  1. Join us at the World Press Freedom Rally on May 3!
    • In person (Vancouver Art Gallery starting at 11am)
    • Online (follow #FreePress for updates)
  2. Contact Prime Minister Harper (see details here) & support Mohamed Fahmy’s bid for freedom
  3. Share your support on Twitter & Facebook!

 

Posted in ACTIVISM

Report: Journalists facing increasing threats around the world

Egyptian photojournalist Shawkan has been jailed for over 620 days.

Egyptian photojournalist Shawkan has been jailed for over 620 days.

Facing threats from extremist groups and hardline governments, journalists are working in “the most deadly and dangerous period” in recent history, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists‘ 2015 Attacks on the Press report.

“Reporters are on the front line,” states Christian Amanpour in the foreword to the report, noting that it is becoming increasingly more hazardous for journalists to work in unstable regions.

This is particularly true for 150+ journalists jailed simply for doing their job. Egyptian photojournalist Shawkan has been incarcerated in a maximum security prison for over 620 days (listen to his heart-breaking letter from prison here). Supporters are worried about his health, and are continuing to actively call for his release.

On May 3, the World Press Freedom Day rally in Vancouver will be an opportunity to bring global attention to these issues, as well as highlighting the plight of jailed journalists like Jason RezaianAhmed Ziada, and Shawkan.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 10.46.56 AMWant to help? 

  1. Join us for World Press Freedom Day on May 3!
  2. Tweet your support using the hashtag #FreePress.
  3. Learn more about the cases of imprisoned journalists:

 

Posted in ACTIVISM

It’s time to keep fighting for a #FreePress

FreePhotoThis week we were grateful to learn that the Canadian government had finally responded to public pressure by issuing journalist Mohamed Fahmy a passport.

While this is an important step forward, we are very aware that the fight for his freedom is far from over.

And as we gear up for the World Press Freedom Day rally on May 3rd, it’s important to remember all the journalists and defenders of free speech who remain incarcerated around the world.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, journalists are being jailed in record numbers, with 158 journalists currently detained in prison around the world.

On Wednesday, Mohamed’s colleague Baher Mohamed called for greater public attention for other imprisoned journalists.

“Your support to us while we were in prison was amazing,” Mohamed said to the Toronto Star. “I want to ask all the media to keep doing that because there are still other journalists behind bars.”

It’s a critical time to voice your support for those who have been punished simply for reporting the news. Speak out for #FreePress and freedom for jailed journalists. 

HOW TO HELP: 

  1. Join us for World Press Freedom Day on May 3!
  2. Tweet your support using the hashtag #FreePress.
  3. Learn more about the cases of imprisoned journalists:

 

Posted in ACTIVISM

Cautious optimism greets Canadian passport decision

mohamed-fahmyIn an unexpected move, the Canadian government announced today that they had decided to re-issue Mohamed Fahmy’s passport, reversing an earlier decision.

“We are now in a position to issue Mr. Fahmy’s a passport despite ongoing legal issues and travel restrictions,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander in a statement.

This announcement comes after months of pressure from Canadians urging the Canadian government to advocate more strongly on Mohamed’s behalf.

“That’s the best news ever,” said Mohamed Fahmy in response to the news today.

Supporters, including the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, reacted with cautious optimism to the news on Twitter.

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While today’s news is a step in the right direction, supporters are still waiting for confirmation and an indication of how long this process will take.

And with Mohamed’s retrial continuing on Wednesday, it’s essential to remember that his fight is not over. 

Posted in ACTIVISM

Join us for World Press Freedom Day on May 3!

11102693_1583399505233441_3251191333835759034_nShow your support and join us for World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, May 3!

Organized by the Fahmy Foundation, the rally will be held in Vancouver, BC, from 11am – 1pm PST. With speakers, activists and music, it will be a great opportunity to show your support to the world.

We’ll be highlighting the cases of imprisoned journalists around the world, including Jason Rezaian (who we’ve profiled here and here).

Even if you’re not in Vancouver, come on board and participate on social media! Across Canada, we’re going to be sharing news from the rally online and making sure that World Press Freedom Day makes a big impact.

HOW TO HELP OUT:

  1. Sign up on the Facebook Event page.
  2. Learn about the Fahmy Foundation‘s efforts.
  3. Share your support! Tweet links to the event page, share it on Facebook, and invite your friends!

 

 

Posted in ACTIVISM

“It is an outrage”: Jailed journalist Jason Rezaian update

Jason Rezaian & his wife Yeganah with writer and broadcaster Anthony Bourdain.

Jason Rezaian & his wife Yeganah with writer and broadcaster Anthony Bourdain.

Widespread outrage greeted the news this week that jailed American journalist Jason Rezaian will be facing espionage charges in Iran.

It is an outrage to so many in the journalism industry,” Brian Stelter of CNN said in an interview. “This case is especially troubling because Jason has been a famed Washington Post correspondent…these charges have absolutely no proof to them.”

After being incarcerated for nine months, Jason has been denied access to bail and proper legal representation, and has endured long interrogations.

The U.S. State Department and the Washington Post reacted quickly to the news, calling the charges “absurd“.

To date, over 370,000 people have signed a petition calling for Jason’s release from prison. Numerous individuals and organizations, including Fahmy Foundation for a Free Press, have offered their support. 

It’s like a tug of war,” said Jason’s mother Mary Rezaian, in a powerful interview after travelling to Iran to plead for her son’s release. “We know Jason did nothing wrong.

3 WAYS TO HELP: 

  1. Join 370,000 supporters and sign the petition calling for Jason’s release.
  2. Join the Facebook campaign for Jason & Yeganah (“Yegi”).
  3. Follow the campaign on Twitter and tweet your support!
Posted in ACTIVISM