Canadian minister hopes for Jazeera reporter's release after Cairo talks

Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:34pm EST
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By Stephen Kalin

CAIRO (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said after "constructive" talks in Cairo on Thursday he hoped that a Canadian journalist working for Al Jazeera television could be released before long from an Egyptian prison.

Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste were sentenced last June to between seven and 10 years for spreading lies to help a "terrorist organization", a reference to Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in November the issue of a presidential pardon was under discussion. Egypt's High Court ordered a retrial of the men on Jan. 1.

Baird sounded cautiously optimistic after talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukri.

"I would characterize the meeting as constructive and worthwhile, and we look forward to resolving that issue. It's still not resolved today, but that’s why I came," he told a news conference.

Rights groups and Western governments have criticized the detentions. Al Jazeera says the trial was flawed and has demanded the journalists' release.

Baird seemed hopeful that Fahmy could be released soon.

"We’re working toward a constructive resolution on that sooner rather than later," he said.   Continued...

Al Jazeera journalist Mohammed Fahmy stands behind bars at a court in Cairo May 15, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer