Canadian Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy agreed to renounce his Egyptian citizenship and will soon be released from prison, Agence France-Presse reported. Fahmy has been imprisoned in Egypt, along with two other Al Jazeera journalists for nearly 400 days.
Fahmy’s release is “imminent,” Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said Monday. The news came a day after Egyptian authorities released Australian colleague Peter Greste. The status of the third imprisoned journalist, Egyptian national Baher Mohammed, is still unclear.
Egyptian authorities were adamant Fahmy, chief of Al Jazeera English International's bureau in Cairo, renounce his Egyptian citizenship prior to allowing his release. Egyptian authorities said the journalist will be able to re-enter Egypt as a tourist, and told him "nationality is in the heart not on paper,” CTV News reported.
Egyptian authorities told @MFFahmy11 he will be able to re-enter as tourist w/out visa & that "nationality is in the heart not on paper."
— Daniele Hamamdjian (@DHamamdjian) February 2, 2015
Fahmy is a “proud Egyptian who comes from a family of military servicemen,” Fahmy’s fiancée, Marwa Omara, told the the Canadian Press.
“My son and myself had responded to your call on June 30 and July 26 back in 2013 and joined millions of people in the streets to protest against terrorism and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Fahmy’s mother, Wafa Abdel Hamid Bassiouni, wrote in a letter to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi published in Mada Masr Sunday. “It breaks my heart that the son of a patriotic family like ours has been wrongfully framed as a terrorist in a trial that produced no evidence to corroborate the accusations against him.”
Egyptian authorities arrested all three journalists in December 2013 in Cairo where they covered the protests that led to the removal of Muslim Brotherhood-backed former President Mohammed Morsi. They were accused of reporting false news and of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which was listed as a terrorist organization following Morsi’s removal. An international campaign mobilized to free the journalists, however, as they were charged with supporting a terrorist organization, each journalist was sentenced to seven to 10 years.