Monday 23 April 2018

Amal Clooney in new call to free Al-Jazeera journalist

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney

Emma Clark

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has renewed calls for Egypt to release an Al-Jazeera journalist two weeks after an order was made allowing him to return to Canada on bail.

The wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney also criticised the Canadian government for its "woefully inadequate sheepish calls" in ensuring the release of her client, Mohamed Fahmy, goes ahead.

Mr Fahmy's retrial for terror charges was due to start today but has been delayed by more than a week.

He was sentenced along with colleagues Baher Mohammed and Peter Greste to at least seven years in prison last year, in a trial described as a sham by human rights groups.

The convictions were overturned on January 1 on procedural grounds, but Mr Fahmy remains in detention pending a retrial.

Mrs Clooney is waiting on a visa application which will allow her to visit her client and discuss the case with Canadian and Egyptian officials.

"The outcome of the retrial, and its timeframe, remain uncertain," she said. "But more importantly Mr Fahmy should not be subjected to this process at all.

Read more: Egypt sets February 12 retrial date for jailed Al Jazeera journalists - lawyer

"Earlier this month Mr Fahmy and his family celebrated the return of Mr Fahmy's former colleague and co-defendant, Peter Greste, to Australia under the terms of a decree allowing foreign prisoners to be transferred to their home state.

"Mr Fahmy is eligible for transfer under this same law - and the retrial process that is now in motion does not change that."

Speaking of Canada's lack of action in the case she added: "Such sheepish whimpers are woefully inadequate when it comes to enforcing an agreement reached with a sovereign state regarding a citizen's release from detention.

"Canada should now begin real advocacy to ensure that Egypt honours its agreement to release Mr Fahmy from Egypt. There is no legal impediment to his immediate transfer to Canada.

"Yet calls from Canadian society and politicians for Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper to pick up the phone to personally intervene in the case have so far fallen on deaf ears."

Read more: Amal Clooney joins legal team to represent tortured Northern Irish men

She also claimed that calls for support from Al Jazeera have also been rebuffed while it is hoped Al-Jazeera English - Mr Fahmy's employer when he was arrested - will refrain from taking any action that might undermine his bid for freedom.

The three journalists were arrested over their coverage of the violent crackdown on Islamist protests following the military overthrow of president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Egyptian authorities accused them of providing a platform for Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, now declared a terrorist organisation.

Mr Fahmy, a dual Egyptian-Canadian national, was been forced to give up his Egyptian citizenship in order to guarantee a transfer.

Press Association

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