A group of 300 prominent Canadians, global journalists and scholars have sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, calling for the Canadian government to take direct action to free Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who was recently sentenced to three years in prison in Egypt.

“We urge you, as Canada’s Prime Minister, to communicate directly with [Egyptian] President al-Sisi the need to have Mr. Fahmy returned home safely and swiftly,” reads the letter. “It goes to the very heart of what it means to be Canadian that we defend the rule of law and protect our fellow citizens from harm.”

Fahmy, along with Egyptian journalist Baher Mohamed and Australian colleague Peter Greste, were arrested in 2013 while worked for Al Jazeera, and were reconvicted in August 2015.

After intervention by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Greste was released from Egypt under a law that allows convicted foreign nationals to be deported. Fahmy has renounced his Egyptian citizenship, but retains his Canadian citizenship.

The letter to Prime Minister Harper urges that “…direct and persistent requests from you personally to President al-Sisi are Mr. Fahmy’s only hope for release.”

Signators to the letter include prominent journalists and writers, including the majority of the Honorary Advisory Board of the Global Reporting Centre, as well as GRC staff and collaborators.

“Mohamed was supposed to join the Global Reporting Centre today, as our first Journalist in Residence,” said GRC director Peter Klein. “We are keeping his office and apartment open and available, hoping for this letter to make a difference and bring Mohamed home to Canada.”