After spending 400 days in an Egyptian prison, an Al Jazeera English journalist is suing his network for $100 million dollars in damages, and has accused the Doha-run news organization of violating his contract.
Mohamed Fahmy and two colleagues were thrown in jail after they were charged with being members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is designated as a terrorist organization in many countries. He is currently free on bail while he awaits retrial for the charges.
Fahmy now claims that the network is responsible for putting him in situations where it appeared as if he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He claims that the news network acted as “an arm of Qatar’s foreign policy” and “was not only biased towards the Muslim Brotherhood — they were sponsors of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“Egypt put us three journalists on trial instead of punishing the network,” Fahmy said during a press conference in Cairo. “But I will not be as lenient as Egypt and I am here to announce that I will set the record straight and put Al Jazeera on trial in Canada’s top court.”
Fahmy’s lawyers submitted the lawsuit to the British Columbia (Canada) Supreme Court on May 5, according to CNN.
“Mohamed Fahmy is a professional journalist. He understands that there are risks of going into the field. That’s not what we are talking about here,” an attorney of Fahmy’s said at the Cairo press conference on Monday. “Not only did Al Jazeera fail to protect these journalists, it itself imperiled them. Al Jazeera itself contributed to the harm that they suffered. It put them in harm’s way.”
The journalist said that while he was imprisoned, he found out that Al Jazeera had been distributing cameras to members of the Muslim Brotherhood and using their footage to try and spin a narrative in their favor.
His legal counselor, Mohamed Hamouda, told reporters during the press conference:
From the viewpoint of (those who) who fought the Muslim Brotherhood … and the terrorism that we saw in our Egypt on their hands and their attempted religious dictatorship, the Al Jazeera channel was (the) right and left hand of the (Muslim Brotherhood) group.
“Al Jazeera has always been the arm moving the extremist operations and the coup operations — not in the pursuit of democracy as you Westerners want but in the pursuit of regional dominance for a small state,” he added.
Al Jazeera has denied any wrongdoing. A spokesman for the network told CNN that Fahmy is saying exactly “what his captors [Egyptian government] want to hear at this stage in the retrial.”