02/22/2016 12:54 EST | Updated 02/22/2017 00:12 EST

Mohamed Fahmy receives Freedom to Read Award from Writers' Union of Canada

TORONTO — Journalist Mohamed Fahmy is the recipient of this year's Freedom to Read award from the Writers' Union of Canada.

The union says Fahmy — who spent more than a year in an Egypt prison — was chosen for his advocacy on behalf of free expression in his coverage of the unrest around the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests.

Writers' union chairwoman Heather Menzies says the jury was unanimous in its decision.

Fahmy was released from an Egypt prison last fall after being arrested in 2013 alongside two Al-Jazeera English colleagues on terror-related charges.

He was sentenced to three years in prison in a retrial for airing what a court described as "false news'' and coverage biased in favour of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The case was widely condemned.

Fahmy and his Egyptian co-defendant, Baher Mohamed, were pardoned in September. The other colleague, Australian Peter Greste, was previously released.

"Not only has he written on the subject of freedom to speak and be heard, he has taken on the larger issues, including the necessary protections for people who are pursuing this freedom in dangerous situations," Menzies said.

She also noted that Fahmy, who now lives in Vancouver, created a foundation to help champion freedom of speech.

The writers' union presents the award as part of Freedom to Read Week, an event designed to encourage Canadians to reflect on their right to read, write and publish freely.

Past recipients include "The Book of Negroes" author Lawrence Hill and philosopher John Ralston Saul.

Fahmy is working on writing a memoir and a British production company is slated to turn the book into a feature film.





The Canadian Press