Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said Tuesday he was “deeply troubled” by Egypt’s conviction on Monday of a Canadian journalist.
An Egyptian court levied a sentence against Mohamed Fahmy, a dual citizen of Canada and Egypt and Cairo bureau chief for Al Jazeera English news network. The day after Canada issued a relatively muted response to the sentencing, Mr. Baird made these remarks during an interview with an Ottawa radio station.
On charges of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast false reports Mr. Fahmy and two Al Jazeera colleagues, an Egyptian and Australian, were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison. No trial evidence was made public. This in addition to two British journalists and a Dutch journalist being handed 10-year sentences in absentia.
Mr. Baird is the most senior Canadian official to speak about the conviction “We are doing all we can,” he said. “We want to pursue the path that’s most effective to resolving the case.” He added that Mr. Fahmy’s case is complex because he is a dual citizen who returned to Egypt years ago and is subject to Egyptian law.
Canada’s initial response to the conviction came Monday from Lynne Yelich, a junior minister in charge of consular affairs. In a statement, she said Canada was “very disappointed” in the ruling, and concerned the judicial process in Egypt was inconsistent with the country’s democratic aspirations.
An editorial in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper Tuesday said the Canadian response was “meek”. A statement on the website of the Egyptian Embassy in Canada said due process was adhered to with all of the defendants, and they still have the right to appeal.
Canada and Egypt were involved in a diplomatic row last year after a Canadian doctor and Canadian filmmaker were held in an Egyptian jail without being charged. Mr. Baird played a high-profile role in pushing for their release, which came after seven weeks.
Source: Wall Street Journal