Editor's Note: Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who was imprisoned in Cairo for 400 days with two of his colleagues, has been released by Egyptian authorities. The two other Al Jazeera journalists — Baher Mohamed, a producer, and the channel's Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy — still remain imprisoned in Egypt. The three journalists were sentenced to seven to 10 years on charges of spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood. But their convictions were overturned Jan. 1 after the country’s highest court ordered a retrial. The following is an open letter from Mohamed Fahmy's mother to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, appealing for her son's release.
CAIRO — As a mother and an Egyptian citizen, I appeal to you, Mr. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to pardon my son, the journalist Mohamed Fahmy. He is an innocent man and needs urgent medical treatment for his Hepatitis C and permanent disability in his shoulder. It hurts me to see his health deteriorating while I have little access to him.
He has lost full use of his arm and still needs a series of corrective bone operations that can only improve his arm's range of motion. One can only pray.
My father and uncles have served in the highest ranks of the police force and the military. They have spent their lives defending Egypt.
My son and I responded to your call on June 30 and July 26 in 2013 and joined millions of people in the streets to protest against terrorism and the Muslim Brotherhood.
It breaks my heart that the son of a patriotic family like ours has been wrongfully framed as a terrorist in a trial that produced no evidence to corroborate the accusations against him.
The last time I saw him, he was hopeful that you would release him on the anniversary of the Jan. 25 revolution, knowing his name was submitted to the presidency by the National Council of Human Rights.
He looked forward to freedom and to clearing our family name and reputation. He confided in me saying, "The hardest thing about imprisonment is knowing you are innocent. I will fight to prove my innocence for as long as it takes because freedom is a right, not a privilege. Seeing you, my parents, ailing due to my detention is what hurts the most. Please try to convey to the president that I am a journalist who has never fabricated news and who has never been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. We three journalists — Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed — produced neutral, balanced and well-sourced reports. None of us ever worked for the now-banned Al Jazeera Mubasher channel. We have now been detained for 400 days and we are basically back to being 'under investigation,' as we were on the day of our arrest on Dec. 29, 2013. It could take months before the retrial begins and possibly a year before we even reach a verdict. It's a price no innocent man should pay."
Mr. President, as a journalist my son never strived to tarnish Egypt's image. It's this Al Jazeera case that now smears Egypt's reputation abroad.
My son had recently appealed to you directly in Western media and insisted he is not an enemy of the state using these words: "I would like to remind Mr. Sisi that in the war he is waging against the cancer of political Islam and its violent offspring, journalists are not enemies but allies. We expose the truth about the terrorism he is striving to defeat."
My son, Mohamed Fahmy, champions his Egyptian and Canadian values and respects the laws and articles of both constitutions, which makes him the respected gentleman and journalist he is today.
Canadian diplomats attended every hearing of the trial before reaching the conclusion that he is an innocent man. And they are ready to receive him in Canada.
On Jan. 1, the appeals court set aside his conviction and overturned the sentence against him, which means he is not guilty of any crime. It is an official judicial recognition that his trial had serious loopholes. And pardoning him now would not interfere with any ongoing judicial process.
Mr. President, you had recognized the historic role of Egyptian women and mothers who took to the streets in your support before the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood and during the elections that followed.
Today, I genuinely hope you can stand beside me, the mother of an innocent man who has spent 400 days in prison. I hope you can use your constitutional rights for humanitarian intervention in order to save an ailing man, my son.