Al Jazeera English's former Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy spoke with HuffPost Live on Wednesday about his recent New York Times op-ed, in which he blames the network for the terrorism charges brought against him and two other journalists in Egypt.
Fahmy served over 400 days on charges of spreading false news harmful to the Egyptian government, and for his alleged affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier this year, an Egyptian appeals court ordered a retrial and released him on bail. In May, Fahmy filed a lawsuit against Al Jazeera in Canada's British Columbia Supreme Court.
Fahmy, who joined HuffPost Live via webcam from Cairo one day before his retrial defense starts, is suing the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera network for $83 million in compensation for negligence. He told host Marc Lamont Hill that he worked for the "very decent" Al Jazeera English, but he claims the company sold footage without the proper licensing to Al Jazeera Arabic. Egypt has banned the network for alleged bias in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and labeled it a national-security threat. Fahmy explained:
We ask [Al Jazeera] very clearly in the office when I started my job, "Are you legal in Egypt?" And they told us, "Yes." The truth is they weren't, and we found that out in the cage. Now, that's a misdemeanor to operate without the proper licenses, but it's also jail time and I will pay for it, not the network managers, and they should be accountable. And that is exactly why I'm suing them -- for all these breaches of the law, for negligence, for misrepresentation and for basically lying to us.
Al Jazeera should have given its English channel employees a "choice," Fahmy said, instead of endangering them by using their content on the Arabic channel. Fahmy said the Qatari royal family wanted to meddle in Egypt's internal affairs and, because of this, he feels like a "pawn in a political football between Qatar and Egypt."
"I cannot accept it anymore, and I have to take a stand," Fahmy said.
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