Canadian-Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy is expected to be released on Tuesday from a prison in Egypt. Fahmy reluctantly renounced his Egyptian citizenship in order to pave the way for him to be deported under a presidential decree. Fahmy, the former Cairo bureau chief of Al Jazeera English, was detained (along with two other journalists from the Qatar-based news channel) after being accused by Egyptian authorities of colluding with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in the aftermath of the country’s 2013 military-backed coup.
On Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said that Fahmy’s release was imminent, according to the CBC. The journalist’s family confirmed that the he had given up his citizenship, which they said Egyptian authorities had made a condition of his freedom. His fiancée, Marwa Omara, was quoted as saying that the decision to renounce his Egyptian citizenship was a difficult one for Fahmy, because he is a "proud Egyptian who comes from a family of military servicemen."
Fahmy, 40, was born in Egypt but moved with his family to Canada in the early 1990s, according to the BBC. He had previously reported on the Middle East for outlets such as CNN and the New York Times before becoming the Cairo bureau chief of Al Jazeera, which was targeted by Egyptian authorities for its critical coverage of Egypt’s military government following the fall of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.
Fahmy was arrested along with Australian Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed in December 2013 and accused of broadcasting “false news” and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been declared a terrorist organization. The three were alleged to have fabricated footage to undermine Egyptian national security and were sentenced to seven years in prison in a trial that human rights groups derided as a sham, the CBC said.
Following international pressure, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi issued a presidential decree last November allowing for the deportation of foreign prisoners. In early January, Egypt’s highest court ordered a retrial, but all three remained behind bars and were denied bail. The possibility of Fahmy’s release follows the deportation of Greste on Sunday after 400 days in custody. It is unclear whether Mohamed, who only holds Egyptian citizenship, will be freed.