OTTAWA (Jun 11, 2010)

The Harper government will press Ethiopia's leader at the G8 summit this month to release a Canadian it believes is unjustly imprisoned there.

But Ottawa will not make the June 25 visit of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to the summit contingent on the release of 41-year-old Bashir Makhtal.

Amnesty International and Makhtal's relatives are to make that demand today in a news conference on Parliament Hill.

They don't want Zenawi to set foot on Canadian soil unless he brings Makhtal with him.

Amnesty International says Makhtal is the victim of an unfair trial on terrorism charges.

Transport Minister John Baird, who visited Ethiopia earlier this year to try to win Makhtal's release, said the G8 is "an opportunity to make our case again" for Makhtal's release. Baird said he thinks "constructive and productive" engagement with the Ethiopian government is the key to winning Makhtal's freedom.