A Canadian journalist who has been held for more than two weeks in one of Egypt’s most notorious prisons is urging the international community to press for his release.
Mohamed Fahmy, 40, the English-language bureau chief in Egypt for the Qatar-based television network Al Jazeera, was detained with three of his colleagues at their Cairo hotel on Dec. 29.
One of the four men was let go shortly after his arrest. The remaining three have not been charged, but the Egyptian authorities accuse them of filming interviews with members of the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed president Mohammed Morsi, which Egypt has declared a terrorist organization.
Al Jazeera denies the accusations against its team. Representatives of more than 50 international news organizations, including CNN, CBS and the BBC, have demanded the men be released.
Two of the detained Al Jazeera journalists – Peter Greste, who is Australian, and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian – are at a regular jail. But Mr. Fahmy is in the Scorpion unit of the Tora prison, a high-security facility that houses the country’s high-profile political prisoners. It has been described as hellish and a blueprint for the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the U.S. military prison.
Sherif Fahmy, Mr. Fahmy’s brother, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that his brother’s fiancée managed to visit him in prison on Monday.
He “has not been provided with a blanket or a pillow or a bed,” said Sherif Fahmy. “He also told his fiancée that, if the media stops pressing the Egyptian authorities and they stop talking about him, he will never get out.”
Fadel and Wafaa Fahmy, Mr. Fahmy’s parents, were on their way from Montreal to Cairo on Tuesday. “During this last visit with his fiancée, he asked to send a message to our parents that he wants to see them,” his brother said. “So, as soon as we told them, they said no matter what, we have to fly out.”
The Fahmys immigrated to Canada from Egypt about 20 years ago, and Mohamed Fahmy has Egyptian and Canadian citizenship. His profile on social media says he got a university degree in Canada, but much of his career has been abroad working for international news outlets, including CNN.
In briefing books prepared for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Trade Minister Ed Fast, senior bureaucrats advised the Conservative government last year to consider limiting consular assistance for Canadians with dual citizenship who have lived outside the country for a long time.
Sherif Fahmy complained in the days after his brother’s arrest that the Canadian officials were not working as hard to secure his release as the Australians were on behalf of Mr. Greste. But he said on Tuesday that the Canadian officials have now been in touch with the family several times and have attended his brother’s interrogations.
Sherif Fahmy said he believes the Canadians are limited in what they can do for his brother because the Egyptians consider him an Egyptian. But he said Mohamed has told his fiancée: “‘I have full faith that the Canadians will get me out of this.’ ”