by Amanda Connolly in Ottawa
Freed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy touched down in Canada in time for Thanksgiving on Saturday and federal parties wasted no time in setting up meetings with him for their leaders, with one notable exception — Stephen Harper.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau shared a beer with Fahmy in Toronto Monday night and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair was scheduled to meet with him at 2:40 p.m. today.
Conservative party spokesman Kory Teneycke said Harper will not be meeting with the former Al-Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief, who spent a year in an Egyptian prison on what were widely considered to be trumped-up charges of airing material undermining Egyptian security and aiding the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Teneycke did not provide a reason for the decision.
Speaking at a press conference hosted by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression on Tuesday, Fahmy said he felt “abandoned” and “betrayed” by Harper during his time in prison.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]“Our prime minister delegated his responsibility to people who lacked the clout to really get me out of there.”[/quote]
“Your only hope is that your prime minister would do everything in his power to get you out of there,” Fahmy told the audience assembled for the event at Ryerson University. “Our prime minister delegated his responsibility to people who lacked the clout to really get me out of there.”
Fahmy spent a year in an Egyptian prison with two Al-Jazeera colleagues after being detained in December 2013 on widely denounced charges of broadcasting material harmful to Egypt during their coverage of Egypt’s political unrest.
They were first convicted in June 2014 but were granted bail in February 2015 after the original verdict was overturned.
A retrial wrapped up this summer; Fahmy and his two colleagues were convicted a second time before Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi granted them an official pardon as part of the release of 100 prisoners on the eve of the Muslim Eid holiday.
Fahmy accepted a teaching position from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, but it’s not clear when he will begin that new job.
Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca.
Marcus is a poet, editor and freelance journalist based in Toronto. He currently works with New Canadian Media as an Administrative Assistant.