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A Year Later, Al Jazeera Journalists Still Imprisoned In Egypt


One year ago today, the Egyptian government arrested three Al Jazeera journalists. Baher Mohamed, Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy were accused of terrorism and collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood. They were put on trial last June and sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison in what human rights groups have called a sham trial. Their imprisonment has drawn worldwide protests. The White House, the European Union and Amnesty International joined Al Jazeera in calling for the release of the three journalists. Their case will be appealed on January 1.

Marwa Omara is engaged Mohamed Fahmy. She's been outspoken about his plight. Before joining Al Jazeera, Mohamed Fahmy worked for CNN and the LA Times. He holds dual Canadian and Egyptian citizenship. Marwa Omara, thank you so much for joining us.

MARWA OMARA: Thank you for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Have you seen him recently? How's he doing? How are his spirits?

OMARA: Yes, I visited him yesterday. He's in high spirits. He's very positive, hopeful that he will be released, but cautiously hopeful. It has been a very tough year on all of us, especially on Mohamed. And it's hard to see your partner is in pain and you can't do anything about it because no matter what you do for him, it's not going to solve the problem.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: People all over the world have protested this imprisonment. They've tweeted their support for the three journalists, including Mohamed. There have been numerous campaigns. Have these had any impact in your view?

OMARA: Of course, of course. We appreciate the support and we appreciate that all journalists are supporting us and they didn't forget about them. It has been a year. It was a very tough year. This is what keeps them going. This is what makes them have hope that they will be released one day.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You've said that you will marry him in prison if necessary. It can't be easy to keep your relationship going under these circumstances.

OMARA: Yes. Actually, this year was a test for our love. I managed to convince him that we can still do our marriage while he's in prison. He didn't accept this at the beginning. He thought it's unfair for me. But we believe that God did this for a reason and we'll get over it very soon and he will be released soon.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There's been a crackdown on dissent in Egypt in recent months. Have you been targeted by the government because you're his fiancee?

OMARA: No, no, never. I was scared at the beginning when Mohamed got arrested that they could harm me. Anyway, but nobody did anything to me, no.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Marwa, you've become very outspoken, an activist on Mohamed's behalf. Were you outspoken in the same way - were you political in the same way before this happened?

OMARA: No. I was a very simple woman just focusing on my career. And I wanted to have a very simple life, simple family. But I found myself now acting like an activist or a lawyer for Mohamed. I've learned a lot about myself and I've done things that I never expected that I could do. It was a life-changing experience, yes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Thank you so much for speaking with us.

OMARA: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Marwa Omara. She's the fiancee of imprisoned Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy and she joined us from Cairo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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