Mohamed Fahmy grew "very emotional" when he learned that Egypt's president now has the power to deport foreigners convicted or accused of crimes, his family said about the move that may hold the key to the Egyptian-Canadian journalist's freedom.
But it's still unclear if the decree by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi will apply to dual citizens like Fahmy — a situation which has left him and his family on tenterhooks.
"It's playing with our emotions," Fahmy's brother Adel said in an interview. "Right now it's still very vague. We're trying to get to the bottom of it to really understand it properly."
Fahmy was working for Qatar-based satellite news broadcaster Al-Jazeera English when he was arrested on Dec. 29 along with two colleagues — Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian producer.
The trio were accused of supporting the banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. They were also charged with fabricating footage to undermine Egypt's national security.
The journalists denied all charges, saying they were just doing their jobs.
After a trial which drew heavy international criticism, the trio were found guilty. Fahmy and Greste were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years.
The judge who sentenced the journalists later said they were brought together "by the devil" to destabilize the country. The main evidence cited was interview footage produced by the journalists critical of the government.
Fahmy filed an appeal, which is set to be heard on Jan. 1, and has also been seeking a temporary release on health grounds. He has Hepatitis C and also suffers from a shoulder injury which grew worse in prison.
The latest decree — which could herald a release for Fahmy — drew mixed emotions from the journalist, his brother said.
"He said that he wants to be vindicated properly. He did nothing wrong. He's not at fault in any way," Adel Fahmy said. "But if deportation is the way to go, he would accept it but on the condition that he does not lose his Egyptian nationality."
Mohamed is proud of his Egyptian roots, his brother explained.
"The way he reacted was, 'this is my country. I'm Canadian and Egyptian. And I'm proud to be Egyptian and Canadian.'"
The lack of clarity around the implications of the decree has Fahmy's lawyers seeking answers from Egyptian authorities.
The Canadian Embassy in Cairo is also trying to get more information on the measure, Fahmy's brother said.
"We're very tense," said Fahmy's brother. "Let's hope for the best."
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