As Mohamed Fahmy marked 100 days in a Cairo prison on Monday, the family of the Egyptian-Canadian journalist said the man is “fed up” with being held on what they call a ridiculous set of charges.
Mr. Fahmy was working for Qatar-based satellite news broadcaster Al-Jazeera English when he was arrested on Dec. 29 along with his colleagues – Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed.
The trio is being tried along with 17 others in what’s thought to be the first time journalists have been charged with terrorism-related offences in Egypt.
Mr. Fahmy’s family said as the days drag on, the 40-year-old is frustrated at how slowly the trial is progressing and how his requests for bail keep being turned down.
“He can’t take it any more,” his brother, Sherif Fahmy, said in an interview.
“It’s been a while since we saw Mohamed extremely angry like we saw him on our last visit … He’s just frustrated that it’s dragging on and on for no reason.”
Journalists around the world marked the Al-Jazeera three’s 100 days behind bars by calling for their release on social media and through gatherings in London and New York.
Many posted photographs on Facebook and Twitter with tape over their mouths while holding signs that said “journalism is not a crime.” Al-Jazeera released a video from families and colleagues of the imprisoned journalists, which demanded they be set free.
“There is no justification whatsoever in the detention of innocent journalists for such an outrageous amount of time,” said Al-Jazeera English’s managing director, Al Anstey.
The broadcaster also demanded the release of Al-Jazeera Arabic journalist Al Shamy, who was arrested separately last August and has been behind bars for 236 days.
“The campaign is focused on the release of our four staff, but is fundamentally a stand in the defence of journalism itself, and a call for people everywhere to have a right to be heard and the right to know what is really going on in their world,” Mr. Anstey said.
Egyptian authorities allege Mohamed Fahmy and his colleagues provided a platform for the Muslim Brotherhood group of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, which the local government has declared a terrorist organization.
The government accused Al-Jazeera of being biased to Mr. Morsi and his group, a charge the broadcaster denies.
Mr. Fahmy’s trial is set to resume on April 10, when his lawyer plans to make another request for bail, his brother said. The family is also hoping the court will review videos that police allege show that the Al-Jazeera journalists altered footage in a way that falsified news and threatened Egypt’s national security.
Mr. Fahmy and his colleagues have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.
The entire situation is taking a heavy toll on Mr. Fahmy’s parents, who travelled to Cairo from their home in Montreal soon after their son was arrested.
“My dad is holding up; my mother has totally lost it. She can’t take it any more,” Mr. Fahmy’s brother said. “The whole experience is very troublesome for my parents.”
The family wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper two weeks ago asking for his help.
“We told him that we all want to come back to Canada as soon as this all resolves,” Mr. Fahmy’s brother said. “If there’s any kind of extra action that he could take, we’d all be grateful.”
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has said he’s discussed Mr. Fahmy’s case with his Egyptian counterpart. Canadian officials have told Mr. Fahmy’s family, however, that his dual citizenship has placed limits on how much they can do.
The Canadian Journalists for Free Expression said the federal government needed to take a stronger public stand on Mr. Fahmy’s case, noting that Australia’s Prime Minister had reportedly called Egypt’s President to discuss Mr. Greste’s case.
“We have yet to see the Canadian government come out and publicly call for the release of these journalists,” said executive director Tom Henheffer. “I think that would be an important step in increasing pressure. Because that is ultimately what’s going to get these journalists out of jail, international pressure.”
Mr. Fahmy’s family moved to Canada in 1991. He lived in Montreal and Vancouver for years before eventually moving abroad for work, which included covering stories for The New York Times and CNN.