Harper silent as world leaders speak out on behalf of jailed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy

The Green Party of Canada is urging Prime Minister Harper to join US Secretary of State John Kerry and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in condemning yesterday’s verdict in the trial of Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian journalist currently jailed in Egypt.

Fahmy is a producer with Al-Jazeera’s English service, and had been working in Cairo when he was arrested in December 2013. He and two other journalists had been jailed since then, awaiting trial for charges of providing a platform for the Muslim Brotherhood, a group declared illegal by the Egyptian dictatorship. Yesterday, the journalists were sentenced to seven year prison terms.

But while the US, Australian, and British governments were quick to condemn the verdict, the Canadian government issued only a vague statement calling on the Egyptian government “To protect the rights of all individuals, including journalists, in keeping with the spirit of Egypt’s new constitution.”

“The Canadian government’s response to this egregious breach of human rights has so far been completely inadequate,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands. “Mohamed Fahmy is a Canadian citizen. The Canadian government must do everything in its power to protect him, and to stand up for freedom of speech and human rights worldwide.”

“Only real economic and diplomatic pressure from Canada will ensure that these journalists are freed,” said Eric Walton, Green Party International Affairs Critic. “The problem is Stephen Harper will not go to the defense of Canadian citizens in danger overseas, apart from going through symbolic diplomatic motions, because he puts trade above human rights.”