Al-Jazeera Reporter’s Egyptian Prison Memoir Being Made into a Movie

AP Photo/Amr Nabil
AP Photo/Amr Nabil

Former 60 Minutes journalist Michael Bronner is developing a feature film based on the upcoming memoir of Canadian-Egyptian former Al-Jazeera reporter Mohamed Fahmy, who spent more than a year in Egypt’s most notorious prison on allegedly false charges.

According to Variety, The Marriott Cell follows the aftermath of Fahmy’s arrest with fellow Al Jazeera English reporters Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed at the Marriott hotel in Cairo in 2013. The three men were imprisoned for more than 400 days in Egypt’s Tora (Scorpion) prison on charges of spreading “false news,” and for allegedly working for the Muslim Brotherood, which was banned in Egypt following the ousting of former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Fahmy spoke of the memoir and upcoming film in a statement to Variety:

A feature is going to allow us to relive and dramatically portray what no news reel grasped; one’s inner voice caught in an emotional struggle between lawlessness, failed corporate decisions, and bureaucratic red tape that left us in a vicious Kafquesqe black hole fighting for our lives and that bigger cause of press freedom.

The three mens’ 10-year prison sentences grabbed international headlines and led to criticism from both the U.S. government and United Nations. Scorpion prison is a maximum security facility generally reserved for jihadists and other terrorists.

While Greste was deported back to his home country of Australia in February 2015, Fahmy and Mohamed were again found guilty of the charges following a retrial.

Both were sentenced to three-year prison terms, before being pardoned last fall by Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, according to Guardian. Fahmy was represented by international human rights attorney and George Clooney’s wife Amal Clooney.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bronner will write the film adaptation for The Marriott Cell, which is being developed by British-based The Development Partnership along with Egyptian actor and producer Amr Waked, who will play Fahmy in the movie.

Bronner spoke to THR about the project:

What attracts me to The Marriott Cell — aside from its setting in the wrenching tumult of Egypt’s revolution and the sheer outrage at the imprisonment of journalists on trumped up terrorism charges — is the intimate journey of these three wrongfully accused men who realize, in the confines of their squalid, shoebox cell, that there is no credible system by which they can prove their innocence in court.

“Incredibly, Fahmy, while literally still shackled in prison, makes a gut call to go on offensive,” said Bronner.

Waked, a political activist who is also Egypt’s biggest international star, first became acquainted with Fahmy during the now freed reporter’s 2011 coverage of the Arab Spring.