When Mohamed Fahmy returns to Canada, a university fellowship and apartment with a view await in British Columbia – as well as a global foundation in his name that aims to help journalists and photographers in prison.
Earlier this year, the University of British Columbia announced that Mr. Fahmy would take up a journalist-in-residence position at its Global Reporting Centre, beginning this month.
But a second trial in Egypt over the summer found Mr. Fahmy guilty on terrorism-related charges. Amid a global outcry, the Canadian journalist was sent back to prison. Following a presidential pardon announced Wednesday, in a show of clemency on the festival of Eid al-Adha, he was released from an Egyptian prison and is expected to return to Canada.
Peter Klein, director of the Global Reporting Centre, said he is thrilled by the news of the pardon and looks forward to seeing Mr. Fahmy take up his position at the university.
"It's still on. To be completely blunt, I had lost a bit of hope. I didn't really think this would get resolved this way," he said. "I mean, I knew there was always a chance that during Eid, there would be a pardon, but given the trials and tribulations up till now, I wasn't counting on it.
"But we kept his office open, his apartment open," he added.
Along with his university fellowship, there is a foundation Mr. Fahmy launched in March.
The Fahmy Foundation for a Free Press – whose board of directors includes Mr. Fahmy, his wife and his Canadian legal team – will be looking to use same the global network of human-rights activists, journalists and ordinary people that focused attention on the Fahmy case to raise money to fight for the release of other journalists held behind bars, and to support their families.
"The foundation is going to be a big part of his life," said foundation board member and lawyer Joanna Gislason. "I'm sure the first thing that's going to happen when he gets here is that he's going to start devoting a lot of energy to that cause. Of course, one of the things that inspired it was his own experience of being wrongfully imprisoned for doing the work of a journalist."
The foundation is actively involved in cases of individuals detained in Iran – an editorial cartoonist and a Washington Post journalist – a Qatari poet, and Saudi writer Raif Badawi. A Saudi court has upheld Mr. Badawi's sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.
The case of Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, is also a focus of the foundation. He was arrested in August 2013 while covering protests in Cairo and has never been charged. He was not among the 100 prisoners released Wednesday by presidential pardon.
The foundation is in the early stages of fundraising and will be looking to Mr. Fahmy's return to Canada to ramp up efforts.
"It's too early to tell, but given Mohamed's dynamism and his contacts throughout the world, I'm sure that he'll get financial support to do the work that others have been doing, but that Mohamed really wants to focus his energies on," said lawyer and board member Gary Caroline.
The foundation is based in Vancouver – where Mr. Fahmy and his wife, Marwa, are expected to make their home while he takes up his position at UBC.
The university setting will offer Mr. Fahmy a chance to work through what has been a traumatic experience – and to speak when it's appropriate, explained Mr. Klein, adding that some of his former journalist colleagues released after captivity regretted doing too many interviews and spoke of the "importance of quiet and reflection."
"He needs the space and time to reflect on what he's been through, what it all means, what are the lessons learned. That's the reason … we created this journalist-in-residence position at the Global Reporting Centre for him to just be able to have a quite space to reflect and think, and write," he said.
The position at the university includes an apartment at UBC's Green College, a residential facility for graduate students and visiting faculty, with views of the ocean and mountains.
"It's a really wonderful place to say, and we got him a flat there and we've kept it open, took pictures of it and tweeted it saying, 'Look, it's still waiting for him,' " said Mr. Klein.
Mr. Fahmy will also deliver public talks and speak to students and faculty across the university about his time in the Middle East.
"I think there's a lot of lessons learned from this experience, and it gives a small window into what's going on, not just in Egypt, but I think broadly in the Middle East," Mr. Klein said. "The layers of complexity that are going on there – that most of us don't appreciate – a lot of that came out in this trial and in this whole case."