Al Jazeera journalist Fahmy says betrayed, abandoned by Canada PM

Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:27pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Mohamed Fahmy, the Al Jazeera journalist pardoned last month after spending over 400 days in an Egyptian jail, said on Tuesday that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper should have worked much harder to secure his release.

Fahmy's return to Canada just a week ahead of a tightly-contested federal election due on Oct. 19 could prove embarrassing for Harper and his Conservative government, with the journalist meeting both of Harper's main opponents to thank them for their support.

Fahmy, a naturalized Canadian who gave up his Egyptian citizenship during his imprisonment, said he felt "betrayed and abandoned" by Harper, who he said dispatched envoys who lacked the clout to influence Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

"There are no words to describe how it feels when you are wrongly convicted and sitting in a cold cell, infested with insects, nurturing a broken shoulder," Fahmy told a news conference.

"Sitting in that prison cell, it was difficult not to feel betrayed and abandoned by Prime Minister Harper," he said.

Fahmy, along with Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste, was sentenced to three years in prison in an August retrial for operating without a press license and broadcasting material harmful to Egypt.

The three Al Jazeera journalists had previously been sentenced to between seven and 10 years in jail on charges including spreading lies to help a "terrorist organization", in reference to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Greste was deported in February, while Sisi pardoned Fahmy and Mohamed just ahead of an Islamic celebration last month.   Continued...

Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair (2nd L) and his wife Catherine (L) walk to a news conference with freed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy (2nd R) and wife Marwa Omara in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 13, 2015.    REUTERS/Jim Young