Mohamed Fahmy was the bureau chief of Al Jazeera English in Egypt in 2013, when he was arrested. Now he campaigns for free speech.
BY ELLIOT FRIEDLAND Mon, December 28, 2015
Mohamed Fahmy is an Egyptian-Canadian award-winning journalist and author. He covered the war in Iraq from day one for the Los Angeles Times. He reported for The New York Times, Dubai TV, and BBC in the Middle East and North Africa. He covered the Arab Spring as a correspondent and producer for CNN. In September 2013, he accepted a new post as the Al Jazeera English Egypt bureau chief. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
Arrest, Trial and imprisonment:
On December 29 2013, Egypt arrested Fahmy, along with fellow Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste (Australian) and Baher Mohamed (Egyptian), accusing them of supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood organization because of their work for Al Jazeera.
On June 23 2014, all three were sentenced. Fahmy received a seven-year sentence; Greste, seven and Mohammed, 10. Fahmy and Mohammed were released on bail in February 2015, while Greste, not an Egyptian citizen, was released and deported back to Australia via Cyprus. Fahmy renounced his Egyptian citizenship that month.
Left without legal counsel, Fahmy hired international human-rights lawyer Amal Clooney to represent him. She denounced the trial as a show trial in an op-ed for Huffington Post in 2014.
In August 2015, he was retried along with Mohamed and Greste (in absentia). Fahmy and Greste received a lighter sentence of three years, Mohamed got 3.5 years. Fahmy and Mohamed were released a month later following a pardon by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi.
Fahmy later announced that he was suing Al Jazeera for $100 million (Canadian/US $72.3 million) for negligence and breach of contract. Fahmy, a staunch opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s war on terror, charges that the network’s Egyptian affiliate served as a “thinly veiled mouthpiece” for former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as for the Brotherhood itself.
He graciously agreed to talk to Clarion Project Dialogue Coordinator Elliot Friedland about his organization the Fahmy Foundation and the work he has been doing to fight for freedom of speech since his release from prison.