Louise Arbour, Paul Martin, Michael Ondaatje, Jim Cuddy, Atom Egoyan, David Suzuki, John Ralston Saul and dozens of other top academics, lawyers, journalists, musicians, authors and leaders are imploring the Prime Minister to act
VANCOUVER, Sept. 8, 2015 /CNW/ - More than 300 prominent Canadians — including former Prime Minister Paul Martin, former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour, author Michael Ondaatje, musician Jim Cuddy, filmmaker Atom Egoyan and environmentalist David Suzuki — have sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper imploring him to act directly and immediately to secure the release of jailed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who has been sentenced by an Egyptian court to three years in prison.
"Direct and persistent requests from you personally to [Egyptian] President al-Sisi are Mr. Fahmy's only hope for release," the letter reads.
Sent early Tuesday, the letter is signed by Order of Canada recipients, political leaders, top human rights lawyers, award-winning authors and popular musicians, among them humanitarian Stephen Lewis, PEN International President John Ralston Saul, human rights lawyer Stephen Toope, authors Camilla Gibb and Yann Martel, CBC personality Rick Mercer, Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie and dozens more. (The letter is available at freefahmy.nationbuilder.com.)
The letter is also signed by renowned journalists and broadcasters, including Christiane Amanpour (CNN), Lara Logan (60 Minutes), Dawna Friesen (Global National) and Shelagh Rogers (CBC). Deans from journalism schools across Canada also added their names.
"We urge you, as Canada's Prime Minister, to communicate directly with President al-Sisi the need to have Mr. Fahmy returned home safely and swiftly," the letter continues. "It goes to the very heart of what it means to be Canadian that we defend the rule of law and protect our fellow citizens from harm."
Fahmy spent 411 days in Egypt's notorious Tora prison, along with Egyptian journalist Baher Mohamed and Australian colleague Peter Greste. Earlier this year, Greste, was deported to his home country after direct intervention by the Australian Prime Minister. Canadian Prime Minister Harper has been criticized for not acting swiftly or strongly enough.
"The support for Mohamed is overwhelming. We sent the letter to prominent Canadians on Thursday and this is the response we received by Labour Day," says Joanna Gislason, one of Fahmy's Canadian lawyers.
"The situation is urgent. It is our hope that Prime Minister Harper will speak with President al-Sisi this week, and help bring an end to Mr. Fahmy's lengthy ordeal."
SOURCE Caroline Gislason Lawyers LLP
For further information: Media Contacts: Gary Caroline, Caroline + Gislason Lawyers, 778.838.6525, [email protected]; Joanna Gislason, Caroline + Gislason Lawyers, 604.376.8766, [email protected]; Adel Fahmy, [email protected]; Marwa Omara, [email protected]