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Report: Egypt

Canadian Al Jazeera journalist to be freed 'sooner rather than later'

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Soukry  in Cairo, 15 January, 2015
Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Soukry in Cairo, 15 January, 2015 Reuters/Stringer

On a visit to Cairo Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird announced Thursday that progress is being made towards freeing jailed journalist Mohamed Fahmy. Following talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukri, Baird said that a solution to free Fahmy will come "sooner rather than later".  

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Fahmy is one of three Al Jazeera journalists jailed in June 2014 for allegedly supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The news comes after the European Union announced earlier this week that they will send a reduced monitoring mission to Egypt's upcoming parliamentary elections.

Mohamed Fahmy, along with his Al Jazeera colleagues Peter Greste and Baher Mohammed, were given minimum seven-year sentences in an Egyptian court last year.

The three stood accused of "spreading lies" that aided the now-banned group the Muslim Brotherhood, due to the Qatari network's ties to the organisation.

On Thursday Baird appeared positive that talks with his Egyptian counterpart would lead to Fahmy's release.

He labelled yesterday's meeting as "constructive" and a "step on the road to a resolution".

It is expected that Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste will be freed by first being deported to their home countries.

This follows a change in Egyptian law earlier this year targeting jailed foreign nationals.

The case of the three jailed journalists has been cited several times this week by the European Parliament, which voiced concerns about Egypt's human rights record.

EU Foreign Policy chief, Federica Mogherini, announced this week that the European Union will send a small monitoring group to Egypt's parliamentary elections.

The EU has declined to send a full mission to observe the elections set for March and April this year.

Mogherini warned Egypt that current economic and political reforms should not be allowed to overshadow progress for human rights.

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