Baird says ‘Bullhorn’ diplomacy won’t free Mohamed Fahmy

Foreign Affairs Minister says Canada is pursuing all legal avenues


OTTAWA — “Bullhorn diplomacy” won’t win the release of Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Tuesday in a pointed rebuttal to critics of his government’s response to the imprisonment of the Al-Jazeera journalist.

Canada is pursuing all legal avenues to secure the release of Fahmy, the minister told Ottawa radio station CFRA.

The government is working hard to have Fahmy freed on appeal, or through a possible presidential pardon, Baird said.

“We want a successful resolution and I guess either way, critics of the government can win because if we’re loud and vocal, we’re practising bullhorn diplomacy and are not being professional,” Baird said.

“But if we try to take the case directly to the leadership, we’re accused of not standing up. I think you want to pursue the path that would be the most effective to resolving the case.”

The terrorism charges and sentences against Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed have been widely condemned as bogus.

The harsh sentences have been the subject of vocal condemnation by Australian and U.S. politicians, but some critics say the Harper government is too muted in its response.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Tuesday he will not interfere in the rulings and said people should stop criticizing his country’s courts.

Related link: Mohamed Fahmy’s family asks why Canada has yet to take on Egypt

Fahmy’s family, the federal New Democrats and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression have all urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to call the Egyptian president personally.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called el-Sissi to proclaim the innocence of the Australian journalist, while the country’s Foreign Minister Julia Bishop said she was appalled by the severity of the verdict.

“I’ll note that the Australian hasn’t been released either,” Baird said Tuesday.

Baird defended his junior minister, Lynne Yelich, who is responsible for consular affairs. She issued a news release Monday that was widely criticized because it merely said she was very disappointed with the sentence.

Yelich works hard and does a good job, Baird said, while his role as foreign minister is to make representations to his Egyptian counterpart, which he did on a visit to Cairo two months ago.

“We have many cases in Egypt of Canadians that are before the courts,” Baird said without elaborating.

“When I met with the Egyptian foreign minister and had a long discussion of this case, they can’t issue a presidential pardon unless there’s a verdict, and until the appeals are exhausted, so obviously we’re going to stay engaged with this file, with this case,” Baird said.

Baird also confirmed that he and his deputy minister called in Egypt’s ambassador on Monday and issued a formal diplomatic protest.

Baird said Fahmy’s case is complicated by the fact that he is a dual Egyptian and Canadian national and also by the intertwined relationship between Al-Jazeera, its Qatari ownership and Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Fahmy and his two co-accused were convicted of giving a voice to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has labelled a terrorist group. They were accused of harming Egypt’s national security.

The journalists deny the charges, and say they were only doing their jobs.

“One of the challenges of this case is that Al-Jazeera is, of course, funded by the government of Qatar, who is also directly funding the Muslim Brotherhood, and that’s what makes this case more complex and adds a different dimension to it,” said Baird.

He added: “I don’t think anyone believes he’s in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood, but obviously the government of Qatar had a close relationship.”




Baird says ‘Bullhorn’ diplomacy won’t free Mohamed Fahmy

  1. Does Baird ever listen to what he says?

    • Sadly not. Or he would tell the whole truth raw. But we have a lot of irrational people in Canada.

      Raw truth is he is a Egyptian, he is not a resident or taxpayer of Canada, he broke the local laws and now its time to do the time. Being a Canadian of convenience isn’t a license to break the law.

      But Canadian politics is often about appeasing stupid irrational people that refuse to acknowledge the truths.

      • Mr Fahmy is a dual citizen, not unlike many Canadians. He works for a foreign company, not unlike a Canadians. You have no idea where his home base is or whether he pays taxes in Canada.

        Apparently the only irrational people are you and your ilk who make assumptions about others and who no doubt would have found Stalin’s “show” trials to your liking as well.

  2. Wasn’t born here, was born in Egypt and is a Egyptian citizen, doesn’t pay taxes to Canada nor live here…. a citizen of convenience. He wasn’t even supposed to be there…but chose to be there with terrorists.

    So why are we even concerned? Lucky he only got 7 years really. And if you support him, send your OWN money as it should not be a taxpayers issue.

    Me, I am tired of quasi-Canadians of convenience in going abroad ruining our reputations as travelers. He is fully accountable in all regards for his actions in Egypt, as a citizen and a traveler.

    No amount of belligerent stupidity, idiocracy, denial of reality is going to help this idiot. He needs the belligerence narcissistic arrogance removed, and 7 years aught to do it.

    • These brave journalists put their lives on the line when they go to the most troubled spots in the world to report on the horrendous actions of despots and the suffering of the forgotten while cowards like you sit at your computer and abuse your right to free speech by taking cheap, ugly shots at them.

      If any Canadian is ruining Canada’s reputation abroad, it’s you and your ignorance and cowardice.

    • Are you still here? Given your self-proclaimed expertise in investments and tax policy, and your frequently expressed contempt for the Canadian system, I would have thought you’d be living under a rock in some tax haven by now.

  3. Apparently Baird is unaware that there was absolutely no evidence to convict these journalists of terrorism or he wouldn’t even suggest pursuing legal avenues as a viable option in the Kafkaesque Egyptian judicial system. Does he actually think that in a system that had convicted and sentenced 529 men to death in a 15 minute trial is rational or that this verdict can be overturned?

  4. Hard to imagine Mr. Baird conducting “bullhorn” diplomacy, innit?
    I mean he’s usually so quiet and restrained and…er, diplomatic.

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