CAIRO: Imprisoned Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy has written a letter from jail, in which he says he has “dedicated his life” to covering events, and “there must be something wrong,” if he can be imprisoned for doing this.
“I’m Mohamed Fahmy, also known as an Al Jazeera journalist or ‘the fifth Defendant.’ If you never saw me or know me, you may describe me as the ‘Rabaa spy,’ ‘traitor’ or a ‘Muslim Brotherhood terrorist,’” he wrote.
Fahmy said he was writing to set the record straight and tell his story to the world. “I don’t remember being a member of the MB before, but what I really remember is how I chanted against them on June 30,” he wrote.
Fahmy also discussed his early career assignments like working as a journalist and translator for The Los Angeles Times in Iraq in 2003. “Then I moved to CNN with the beginning of the January 25 Revolution. I covered everything that happened and my relations with most of the sources—including the sovereign State agencies, the youth political movements, the Muslim Brotherhood, salafists and even Sinai Bedouins—were excellent, as they all represent the data that I have to give to the audience,” he said.
“I still remember my lawyer’s statements defending me in court; he made it clear that when a journalist covers a group of people saying, ‘down with military rule,’ it doesn’t mean that he himself approves of it,” Fahmy added in his letter.
Fahmy said he eventually went over to Al Jazeera on a slew of conditions.
He required he not work for and his stories not be published on Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, and that his new employer had to prove to him they had a legal license to work in Cairo.
He added that despite all of that, he still found himself in jail after working for Al Jazeera for about two months and three weeks.
“I found myself with a group of students who were described as pro-Muslim Brotherhood in the same case and with the same charges, however, that was the first time I ever saw them,” Fahmy said. “For working two months with the English channel, I had to pay the price for three years of Al Jazeera Mubasher coverage in Egypt.”
“Assuming that I was fabricating videos as they mentioned, how could I manage to work with two huge channels like CNN and Al Jazeera at the same time?” he added.
Fahmy went on to refute the charges against him, saying there was no specific evidence that he did anything wrong.
“I knew that my work would not continue the same as before when two of my requests for conducting interviews were rejected by Amr Moussa and the Interior Ministry,” he said. “But I respect my work and career and I’m not going to put my name on a fabricated report.”
Fahmy called on the Court of Cassation to reconsider his case as soon as possible, and demanded it listen clearly to testimonials by public figures like former Arab League chief Moussa, and businessmen Naguib Sawiris and Farouk el-Baz, “who would say clearly that I’m not a Muslim Brotherhood member.”
“I don’t represent Qatar, as I don’t represent any other countries or bodies. I represent only a journalist who lives in the dream of freedom of journalism and expression,” Fahmy said. “Life in jail is not easy, especially if you are innocent.”
The Canadian-Egyptian duel citizen Fahmy was arrested on Dec. 29, 2013 when security forces raided his room in the Cairo Marriott. He was arrested with five other journalists, including Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed.
They were charged in the case known widely as the “Marriott Cell” trial on charges they had fabricated videos and reports regarding demonstrations and protests in Egypt.
Fahmy was sentenced to seven years in jail on June 23 along with Greste, and the case was appealed on Aug. 21. Their colleague Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years in prison.