Skip to main content

Amal Clooney demands sit down with Egypt's Sisi over jailed journalist

Clooney plans to 'visit Cairo in the near future' and hopes to meet with Sisi and other officials
Amal Clooney has defended Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (AFP)

Prominent lawyer Amal Clooney has requested a meeting with Egypt's president to push for the release of Al-Jazeera reporter Mohamed Fahmy, a letter obtained by AFP on Saturday shows.

Clooney, a famed human rights lawyer who married Hollywood star George Clooney last year, has thrown her legal clout and celebrity behind Fahmy to secure his release.

"Despite clear assurances that he would be released, Mr Fahmy remains in detention in Egypt," she wrote.

"I therefore plan to visit Cairo in the near future to meet with Mr Fahmy and to discuss the prospects for his release."

An Egyptian government official had said that Fahmy, a dual Egyptian-Canadian citizen, would be freed soon after his Australian colleague Peter Greste was deported on 1 February, provided that he renounce his Egyptian citizenship.

"Since Mr Greste’s release, Mr Fahmy's Egyptian counsel has been informed by Egyptian government officials that his release was to follow, and that it was imminent," Clooney wrote in the letter addressed to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his foreign minister.

"This was to be expected, given that Mr Fahmy has been the victim of the same injustice as Mr Greste," wrote the Britain-based lawyer of Lebanese origin, who has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and taken on other high profile cases.

"Since this has not yet occurred, however, I now write to request a meeting with you, or your designated officials, as soon as possible to discuss the status of the case" she wrote.

Fahmy and Greste, along with Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, were arrested and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison after being convicted of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood in their coverage, a charge rights groups called absurd.

The court sentenced them to up to 10 years in prison. An appeals court overturned the verdict and ordered a retrial, while under international pressure Sisi last year passed a decree allowing incarcerated foreign nationals to be deported to their home countries.

But Mohamed, who only has Egyptian nationality, remains in jail, and faces an unknown about of time in prison. The retrial has now been set for 12 February, the court announced on Saturday. 

"We're paying the price for being Egyptian," his wife Jihan Rashid told AFP.

"It's the peak of injustice for my husband to remain in prison and be tried while his foreign colleagues are freed.”

Rashid said that she feared that interest in his case will fade once Fahmy is deported.

"I am seriously working on getting him another nationality," she said.

The arrests came against the backdrop of a cold war between Egypt and Qatar, which supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s former president Mohamed Morsi, whom Sisi deposed in July 2013.