Fahmy returns to Vancouver after two years of imprisonment in Egypt
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
On October 15, Mohamed Fahmy arrived home in Vancouver with his wife to a warm greeting from friends, family, strangers, and supporters.
Fahmy, along with two other journalists from abroad, have spent the last two years incarcerated in Egypt after being accused of spreading false news and broadcasting terrorism, particularly regarding their coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite international outcry and all three journalists maintaining that they were just trying to cover a story, they were convicted in Egyptian courts.
Fahmy originally received a seven-year sentence. However, after he renounced his Egyptian citizenship, his sentence was reduced. He was still expected to spend three more years in prison before being pardoned in September.
On his way home to Vancouver, Fahmy made a stop in Toronto on October 11 to speak at a news conference about his experiences. He was particularly excited to be back in time for the federal election. Fahmy met with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau on October 12 and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair on October 13.
“I think it’s a very fierce and exciting campaign, and I’m so proud to be here to witness it. I’ve been working in the Middle East for 16 years—covering Syria, Iraq, Libya—that’s a democracy I was hoping to see, and it’s not there,” Fahmy said in an interview with CBC’s Andrew Chang, upon his return to Vancouver.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has received consistent criticism from Fahmy.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Harper did not understand the urgency of the situation the way others did. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and CJFE wrote open letters to Harper saying, ‘You need to make that phone call.’ Also, Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau wrote open letters and questioned Mr. Harper in Parliament about his mild approach.”
However, Fahmy did express gratitude to Harper, who eventually made a phone call to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to help secure Fahmy’s release.
Still, Fahmy will continue to fight for the release of other journalists incarcerated around the world.
Fahmy is expecting to start readjusting back to normal life starting next week, already taking a position as a professor at the UBC School of Journalism. Some of Fahmy’s future students went to YVR on Thursday evening to greet him on his return.
“I’m just so excited to just be able to go to Stanley Park, walk the streets and have some good sushi,” Fahmy said to CTV reporters. “It’s just a whole new beginning.”