Attorney Amal Clooney is requesting an in-person meeting with Egypt’s president and foreign minister to lobby for the release of her client, Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy. In a letter to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Clooney expressed interest in meeting with the leader “as soon as possible.”
Fahmy has been in jail for more than a year after being accused of assisting the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has been labeled a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government. He had been imprisoned like his colleagues, Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed. However, Greste was deported to Australia last week.
“Since Mr. Greste’s release, Mr. Fahmy’s Egyptian counsel has been informed by Egyptian government officials that his release was to follow, and that it was imminent,” Clooney wrote in the letter obtained by Canadian news site CTVNews. “This was to be expected, given that Mr. Fahmy has been the victim of the same injustice as Mr. Greste.”
After Greste’s release, Clooney planned to meet Fahmy in Toronto, but changed her plans after realizing Fahmy would not be immediately set free. Fahmy had been a dual citizen of Egypt and Canada, but recently abandoned his Egyptian citizenship hoping it would speed his release.
The full text of the letter from Clooney to the Egyptian officials published by CTVNews appears below:
Dear President Sisi/Foreign Minister
I write as counsel to Mr. Mohamed Fahmy, the journalist who has been detained in Cairo since December 2013. I repeat my request for the immediate release of my client. Since this has not yet occurred, however, I now write to request a meeting with you, or your designated officials, as soon as possible to discuss the status of the case.
In my letter to you dated 28 December I explained that Mr. Fahmy’s detention was illegal and requested that you take immediate action to bring about his release. The letter attached an official request for Mr. Fahmy’s transfer to Canada under applicable laws as well as a request for a pardon and release on health grounds.
I am delighted to note that five days ago, on 1 February, Mr. Fahmy’s co-defendant in the trial that led to his imprisonment was released from detention in Egypt. The Ministry of Interior reportedly stated that the government had “decided to extradite Australian journalist Peter Greste ... to his country today ... after the cabinet's approval, in enforcement of the Presidential Decree no. 140 for the year 2014 regarding the rulings on extraditing defendants and deporting the convicts.” Since Mr. Greste’s release, Mr. Fahmy's Egyptian counsel has been informed by Egyptian government officials that his release was to follow, and that it was imminent.
This was to be expected, given that Mr. Fahmy has been the victim of the same injustice as Mr. Greste. Both were charged in connection with their work as journalists at the Al Jazeera English news network; both sentenced to 7 years in prison following an unfair trial. And both are foreign nationals eligible for transfer under Law 140/2014: as confirmed in the Egyptian Official Gazette no. 4497 of 2014, Mr. Fahmy “is permitted to become a naturalised citizen of Canada without retaining his Egyptian citizenship.”
Despite clear assurances that he would be released, Mr. Fahmy remains in detention in Egypt. I therefore plan to visit Cairo in the near future to meet with Mr. Fahmy and to discuss the prospects for his release. I would be grateful if you could confirm receipt of this letter and inform me as soon as possible of the next available opportunity to discuss the matters raised in this letter with you or a member of your staff.
Thank you for your urgent consideration of this matter.