About the Fahmy Foundation
Award-winning journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and his wife Marwa Omara, established the Fahmy Foundation to champion free speech and fight the suppression of the press.
The goal of the Fahmy Foundation is to provide financial assistance and advocate for reporters and photographers and prisoners of conscience unjustly imprisoned worldwide. Our board members aim to build on the extensive global experience gained during the battle to free Fahmy himself from the legal complications of a fabricated "terrorism" case that left him with a permanent shoulder disability and unjustly detained for 438 days. Since he was pardoned and released in September 2015, he continues to advocate for those champions silenced behind bars.
Following his release on bail from prison and as he awaited the start of his retrial, the former Al Jazeera Cairo bureau chief and Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy announced in March 2015 that he and his wife were launching the Fahmy Foundation.
The foundation is inspired by the unprecedented global support of millions of people who supported Fahmy and his colleagues after their arrest in Cairo in December 2013 and during their subsequent of incarceration in Egypt on fabricated "terrorism" charges.
“Too many journalists are being wrongly thrown into prison, effectively silencing their voices,” says Fahmy.
“Hundreds of support letters lifted my morale in prison yet equally important was the money donated from honorable people and media defense organizations alike. Only then was I able to pay the majority of my legal fees. Our mission is to give back, advocate for, and financially support imprisoned journalists, prisoners of conscience, and their families.”
“These situations not only impact the journalists who have been wrongly convicted but their families as well,” says Gary Caroline from Fahmy’s Canadian law firm Caroline + Gislason Lawyers and a board member of the Fahmy Foundation.
“These individuals rarely have experience with the law and are often at a loss as to what to do or where to turn for help," Caroline says.
The Fahmy Foundation will help fill that gap and act as a one-stop-shop for people facing these legal troubles.
Mohamed Fahmy launched the Foundation during his retrial to leverage the support he was receiving from the international community to help other reporters in a similar situation.
The Fahmy Foundation fights for a free press and for the release of imprisoned reporters. It offers support to the families of those in jail.
The Fahmy Foundation was set up to advance the rights of imprisoned journalists, photographers and prisoners of conscience through education and advocacy, to improve their conditions while in prison and to provide financial as well as other kinds of assistance.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mohamed Fadel Fahmy is an Egyptian-Canadian award-winning journalist and author. Fahmy has worked extensively in the Middle East, mostly for CNN. He covered the Iraq War in 2003 for the Los Angeles Times and entered Iraq on the first day of the war. Upon completion of his one-year mission, he authored his first book, Baghdad Bound.
In 2007 he completed a one-year mission as a protection delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross, protecting the rights of political prisoners, the missing, and refugees in Beirut-Lebanon.
In 2011 he won the Peabody award for his reporting with CNN and its coverage of the Arab Spring.
In the same year he won the Tom Renner investigative reporting award for producing the documentary Death in the Desert. The film was part of the CNN Freedom Project series that exposed the organized crime rings operating the illegal human trafficking of Sub-Saharan Africans to Israel through Sinai-Egypt.
He co-authored Egyptian Freedom Story, a photo documentary of the January 25 revolution of 2011.
In September 2013, he accepted a new post as the Al Jazeera English Egypt Bureau Chief.
Fahmy received the Canadian Commission World Press Freedom Award and a certificate from the UNESCO in 2014.
In 2015 he received the Royal Television Society Awards in London, the International Association of Press Clubs Freedom of Speech Award in Warsaw, and the Liberty Victoria Voltaire Award in Australia.
He founded the Fahmy Foundation for Free Press in 2015 to help journalists imprisoned worldwide.
Upon his arrival to Vancouver, Fahmy accepted a job as an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia.
Mohamed is currently a member of the Board of Directors for Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression.
Making the most of my 438 days in an Egyptian prison (25: 20)
Marwa Omara has worked as a public relations and communications executive at the Vodafone telecommunication company in Egypt for a decade. She quit her job during her husband's incarceration and focused on campaigning for his release.
Her exceptional global contacts, media relations, and advocacy skills played a major role in protecting Mohamed Fahmy in prison while keeping his story alive.
Gary Caroline is a founding partner of Caroline + Gislason Lawyers LLP.
Gary advises and represents a wide range of clients – primarily unions, employees, and individuals who find themselves in disputes with government and governmental agencies. He also provides advice and advocacy to elected officials and political parties.
Being represented by Gary means receiving more than just solid judgment and a deep understanding of the law. Clients benefit from Gary’s innovative thinking and pragmatism grounded in his many years of obtaining creative solutions in the labour relations context as well as his previous years of activism.
After having spent several years working as a railway carman and leading the fight for the creation of a single union in Canada for all skilled trade workers, Gary resigned from CP Rail and enrolled at Osgoode Hall Law School. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1989 and was based in Toronto and Ottawa until moving to Vancouver in 2003.
Gary’s lifelong interest in international affairs and human rights work is demonstrated through the leadership training provided with Joanna Gislason for the Rwandan National Women’s Council and his work with Aids Free World in Uganda.
He is extremely proud to be a director of the Fahmy Foundation for a Free Press and the firm’s work in fighting for Mohamed Fahmy’s release and return to Canada.
Gary is often called upon to offer strategic legal advice and to assist in negotiating major collective agreements. He is also one of Canada’s foremost experts in pension litigation and advises and represents union pension plans.
Most recently he was successful on behalf of the Canadian Office & Professional Employees Union, Local 378, at the British Columbia Court of Appeal in opposing the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s attempt to increase by tens of millions of Canadian dollars the employee contributions to their pension plan.
Gary was born in Montreal. For 27 years he lived and worked in Ontario.
Joanna’s practice emphasis is on union-side labour law, human rights law, and public interest law.
She has fought for the rights of her clients in forums ranging from the employment and assistance appeal tribunal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
She is a strong advocate for the rights of individual workers as well as a sophisticated strategist, advisor, and advocate for leaders of unions and other progressive organizations.
Joanna also advises on the day-to-day operation of unions and non-profit organizations. She provides guidance and services designed to develop resilient organizational structures and build the capacity of workers. She is an experienced mediator and trainer with extensive education and experience not only in law but also in alternative dispute resolution, leadership and organizational psychology.
Through Caroline + Gislason’s sister firm, Radica Inc., Joanna conducts mediations, workplace investigations, and organizational audits as well as a wide range of training programs. Her experience as a trainer has included leading conflict resolution workshops for women’s organizations in Rwanda and Darfur as well as a broad range of training programs for stewards, union staff, and leadership in Canada.
Prior to joining forces with Gary Caroline in 2007, Joanna worked in-house at a major public sector union. She has also worked at a boutique law firm specializing in Aboriginal law and as a legal advocate for people living in poverty.
Before her career in law, Joanna was manager of the Political Science and Women’s Studies departments at the University of California, Irvine, where she also served as a mediator, sexual harassment advisor, and in the elected position of staff advocate.
Her undergraduate work was in psychology, anthropology, and cultural studies. Joanna is currently completing her Masters of Law and is writing a thesis on access to justice in administrative tribunals.
She has also been a waitress, a secretary, a fork-lift driver and a baker. Joanna has served on several non-profit boards and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for Pivot Legal Society.