A Canadian journalist facing widely denounced terror charges in Egypt expressed jubilation Monday after the federal government announced it will issue him a passport – reversing an earlier decision that angered many of his supporters.
"It's a victory," Mohamed Fahmy said from Cairo. "You have no idea how safe you feel when you have your passport in the back pocket of your jeans."
The first thing the 40-year-old plans to do after he receives the document?
"I can go and get married the day I get it," Mr. Fahmy said.
He's repeatedly complained that not having a passport prevented him from marrying his fiancée, who has stood by him throughout his ordeal. The development also meant he would finally be able to "walk safely" in the streets of Cairo, he said.
Mr. Fahmy – who spent more than a year in an Egyptian prison – had been trying to get a new passport ever since his release on bail in February, claiming the lack of official documentation placed him in a precarious position.
His original passport was seized upon his arrest in December, 2013, while he was working for satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English. Despite filling out the necessary paperwork, the Canadian government had refused to issue him a new passport, citing his bail conditions.
On Monday, however, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander revealed that the situation had changed.
"After several weeks of intervention by government officials on Mr. Fahmy's behalf, we are now in a position to issue Mr. Fahmy a passport despite ongoing legal issues and travel restrictions," he said in a statement.
"Our government will continue to take every precaution necessary to ensure the Canadian passport remains one of the most trusted and secure travel documents in the world."
Mr. Fahmy is currently undergoing his second trial and is expected be back in court on Wednesday for what he expects will be a "milestone" session.
A technical committee tasked with studying video reports produced by Mr. Fahmy and his team is expected to report its findings on whether any of the clips were fabricated or contained any material biased toward the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist organization in Egypt.
"It's basically the make or break for this case," Mr. Fahmy said. "It will be very indicative of what is coming."
Mr. Fahmy was originally tried with two colleagues and sentenced to seven years in prison.
A successful appeal resulted in a second trial being ordered for all three men, but one of his colleagues – Australian Peter Greste – was released in February under a law which allows for the deportation of foreigners convicted of crimes. Mr. Fahmy gave up his Egyptian citizenship for what he thought was a requirement to be deported under the same law, but he remained in prison.
He and his Egyptian co-worker Baher Mohamed were granted bail after their retrial began.