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Journalists, including Canadian, detained and facing 'terrorism' charges in Egypt

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The Toronto Star reports today in its page three the arrest and detention in Egypt on Dec. 29 of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. The report is written by the Cairo-based Egyptian journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous. He is a Fellow of the Nation Institute and former co-host of Democracy Now.

Fahmy is one of three Al Jazeera journalists who were arrested on Dec. 29 when police raided the offices of Al Jazeera in a Cairo hotel. The other two are Peter Greste, an Australian correspondent, and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian producer. They are charged with belonging to a "terrorist" organization.

According to the Star report, Fahmy's brother, Sherif, contacted Canadian authorities immediately following the arrests and is not satisfied with their response. He accuses the Canadian embassy in Egypt of dragging its feet because no Canadian officials attended Fahmy's first interrogation session.

Prosecutors have interrogated Fahmy three times so far with the next session scheduled for Jan. 8.

"I'm not really happy with (the Canadian government's) performance until now, their movement was really slow," says Sherif. "The minimum they could do is say they are concerned about Mohamed's case, they haven't even done that."

Fahmy's lawyer says that the imprisoned journalists are being held in "very dismal" conditions in a maximum security wing of Egypt's notorious Torah prison.

These arrests are part of a deepening assault on democracy in Egypt by the military-dominated regime that ousted Egypt's elected president last July 3. On Dec. 25, the regime outlawed the country's largest politcal party and movement -- the Muslim Brotherhood. The violence and rights violations of this regime are surpassing those of the decades-long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak that was overthrow in February 2011.

The Star is also reporting that a group of 61 Canadian Shiite pilgrims were detained at the Cairo airport on Jan 4,5 and refused entry into the country. The group was returning from an annual pilgrimage to Iraq and planned to visit Egypt for two days while en route home. The members of the group were reportedly treated with respect while in detention.

A forthcoming article by this writer will detail the sharp deterioration of the political situation in Egypt.

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