Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy was sentenced to three years in prison along with his two colleagues, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed. They faced terrorism-related charges and accusations of reporting “false news.”
As Slate Magazine explained, a retrial had initially raised hopes that the ordeal would soon be over and the two journalists still in custody would be set free. (Peter Greste was already deported to his home country, Australia.)
Unfortunately for them, the retrial turned out to be surprisingly severe, as Gary Caroline, Fahmy’s lawyer, explained.
“The sentence is clearly outrageous and it’s almost impossible to describe how absurd the verdict is. There has been no evidence of any crime having been committed, unless being a journalist is itself a crime in Egypt.”
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the three journalists were arrested in 2013 on charges of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist organization to the most recent government in Egypt. They also received charges of spreading false news and operating without a license. In what the international community decried a sham trial, the journalists were initially sentenced to 10 years.
According to Caroline, Fahmy and Mohamed will most likely not serve the entire sentence.
“One would expect that at a minimum the 411 days [they already spent in prison] would be deducted but really, truly there is nothing certain in this case or with the Egyptian judiciary.”
The journalists might not be the only ones in trouble after the case. According to The New York Times, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry summoned the British Ambassador to formally protest comments he made on television.
Speaking in Arabic, Ambassador John Casson said he was “shocked and concerned” about the sentences. The ministry called the action “unacceptable interference.”
Regarding Fahmy, his brother, Adel Fahmy, explained to the Christian Science Monitor that although his brother had given up Egyptian citizenship, he “… always had his foot grounded in both cultures and he had a lot of support during his detention from Canadians.”
Speaking to the Christian Science Monitor before the verdict was handed down, Mohamed Fahmy was hopeful he would soon see Canada again.
“I have been dreaming literally of that day when I land back home in Canada. Even from the time when I was in my cell in solitary confinement in the terrorism wing with no lights … or way to tell time, my way of escapism in my mind was to just reminisce about simply walking in the park and just having that feeling of security and just being a free man in Canada.”
For now, the journalist’s dream has been deferred as he prepares to spend additional years imprisoned in Egypt.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]