Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Thursday and discussed, in part, the jailed Al-Jazeera journalists and “the Mariott cell” case, whereby Shoukry “assured that the Egyptian judiciary is independent,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Shoukry also stated that “the case is now being discussed from all its different angles after an appeal was accepted,” the statement read.
The Canadian-Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy was arrested along with his two colleagues, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste, while they were working for Al Jazeera English in December 2013. The journalists are accused of spreading false news and supporting Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Local and international rights organisations have called their detention a blow to the rights of journalists in Egypt.
For the rest of their meeting, the officials discussed how to “develop bilateral relations between the two countries” through increases in economic fields, such as “private trade and investments”. The statement added that Canadian private investments are expected to increase.
The two ministers concluded their meeting by signing memorandums of agreement in “the fields of the supply and storage of food, petrol, and mining”, as well as diplomatic training.
This trip marks Baird’s second visit to Egypt in less than a year, according to the Canadian government’s foreign affairs website.
“Canada has been an ardent supporter of Egypt’s efforts to build a stable, inclusive, prosperous and democratic country based on respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law,” Baird had said in a statement before his visit to Egypt.