Al Jazeera journalist to sue own employer

Al Jazeera journalist, Mohamed Fahmy accuses organisation of negligence over his trials in Egypt

Photo by: Getty Images
Photo by: Getty Images

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Al Jazeera journalist, Mohamed Fahmy has demanded $100 million from the network in compensation for alleged breaches of contract and negligence in relation to his trials in Egypt, his lawyer said on Monday.

Fahmy had spent more than 400 days in a Cairo jail accused of aiding a terrorist organisation, Reuters has reported.

Fahmy was originally sentenced from seven to 10 years in prison on charges that included spreading lies to help a “terrorist organization,” referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, along with fellow Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste.

Peter Greste, an Australian journalist working for Al Jazeera who was sentenced alongside the others, was freed and deported earlier this year. All three have denied the charges. 

Fahmy and Baher were convicted and sentenced to prison terms, but an appeals court in Egypt ordered a retrial and the journalists were released on bail earlier this year.

According to his lawyers, Fahmy accuses the network of "epic negligence" by misinforming him about its legal status in Egypt and airing his reports on its Egyptian channel Jazeera Mubashir Masr, which was banned by an Egyptian court for favoring the Muslim Brotherhood. 

He said Al Jazeera didn't pay for his legal fees in full after he sought a lawyer different from the ones the network had hired. 

Al Jazeera has denied that claim.

"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," Fahmy’s attorney Gislason said Monday in Cairo.

"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," he added.

An Al Jazeera spokesman called the assertions "sad."

"It's sad to see Fahmy and his lawyer repeating criticisms of Al Jazeera made by the Egyptian authorities," the spokesman said. "It's what his captors want to hear at this stage of the retrial. All governments have news outlets that they don't like, but they don't use spurious grounds to put journalists in jail. If Fahmy wants to seek monetary compensation from anyone, it should be from his jailers."

Fahmy is a naturalised Canadian who gave up his Egyptian citizenship.

Since his passport was seized during his arrest, the Canadian government had initially refused to re-issue a new passport. In April, the government relented and issued a new passport for him.