Jazeera journalist released from prison requests to restore Egyptian citizenship

Published December 30th, 2015 - 08:30 GMT

Mohamed Fahmy, who was recently released from jail in Egypt after his involvement in the Al Jazeera case known as the "Marriott cell," sent on Tuesday an official request to Egypt’s foreign ministry asking that he be given back his Egyptian nationality.

Fahmy renounced the Egyptian citizenship in February and kept his other, Canadian, citizenship after he and his two colleagues, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, were sentenced to three years in maximum security prison on charges of defaming Egypt and spreading false news.

Fahmy, who was an Al Jazeera producer at the time of his arrest, was one of the defendants along with Australian journalist Greste and Egyptian journalist Mohamed. The three journalists had been arrested from inside the Marriott hotel in December 2013.

The three initially sentenced to prison in June 2014; they spent no less than 400 days in prison before their release in February 2015 on different days and under different conditions.

Greste was released and deported after the sentence on account of a presidential decree which maintains that foreign defendants and convicts can be deported "whenever the [state's] supreme interest necessitates so."

Fahmy revoked his Egyptian nationality in hopes of benefiting from the same decree through which Greste was released, but Fahmy was still freed along with Mohamed, who holds only an Egyptian nationality, on February 12 as per court order.

The defendants' prison sentences were widely condemned worldwide and opened the door for scrutinising press freedoms in Egypt.

Al Jazeera suspended on December 22 the broadcast of its Egyptian channel, Jazeera Mubasher Misr, two days after Egypt and Qatar "responded" to the late Saudi monarch's invitation "to consolidate relations between them".

The suspension will last until the "circumstances are appropriate" for return, the channel said. It added that it is seeking the conclusion of necessary permits for broadcasting in Egypt, in coordination with the authorities.


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