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February 6, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:54am

Ex-Al Jazeera journalist drops $100m claim against network over Egyptian imprisonment

By Anthony Harwood

A former journalist jailed in Egypt during protests which erupted in 2013 has dropped a multi-million pound claim against Al Jazeera.

Mohamed Fahmy, 45, had issued a £60m lawsuit blaming the Qatari network for knowingly endangering his life.

He used the publicity surrounding his detention and court appearances to attack Al Jazeera and the Doha regime for the alleged negligence.

It later emerged that he had been paid nearly £200,000 by the United Arab Emirates to fund the legal action.

The UAE is a regional enemy of Qatar and a close ally of Egypt’s Sisi government, with whom it entered into a blockade of Doha in June 2017, along with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Sisi came to power in 2014 following a military coup which overthrew the elected government of Mohamed Morsi whose Muslim Brotherhood party had been backed by Qatar.

Bureau chief Fahmy was one of three Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Cairo (pictured) in December 2013 on charges of “false news” and spent more than 400 days in prison.

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The other two were Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed.

They were convicted of being part of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the authorities had declared a terrorist organisation, and of broadcasting falsified footage aimed at damaging national security.

Their convictions were overturned on appeal and it was ruled their rights had been violated.

Fahmy’s support from UAE was revealed when the New York Times obtained his correspondence with the country’s Ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, whose emails had been hacked.

Despite the revelations he continued to attack Qatar during public appearances, most notably at a Qatar opposition conference in London in October 2017.

However, he dropped the case when it emerged that he would be cross examined in court if he went ahead with the legal action against the Al Jazeera network in Canada.

A spokesman for Al Jazeera said: “Al Jazeera is committed to reporting the news without fear or favour and will always stand up for its journalists and the rights of all journalists to operate freely anywhere in the world without fear of arbitrary arrest, assault, prosecution or other forms of harassment and intimidation.

“Al Jazeera worked extremely hard to support Mr Fahmy and his colleagues after their arrest and throughout their trial and imprisonment in Egypt and was extremely disappointed when Mr Fahmy sought to transfer blame for the oppressive and unlawful actions of the Egyptian authorities onto the Network.

“That it is now clear that he did this in collaboration with a regime that is fundamentally opposed to free and independent journalism only heightens our sense of disappointment.”

Fahmy told Press Gazette he was forced to drop the case for financial reasons.

“There is nothing more I wanted than to see than Al Jazeera on trial and I had worked for years preparing a huge file including affidavits to support my case which included testimonies from former Al Jazeera employees, academics, lawyers, and professionals like Dr Najeeb Al Nuaimi, the former Qatari minister of justice who was banned from leaving Qatar shortly after my email was hacked and it became public that he had written an affidavit submitted toward my case,” he said.

“I dropped the litigation purely for financial reasons after my lawyer who was working on contingency informed me months before the cross-examination that he could not sustain his work without fees.

“I was up against a channel with deep pockets, fully backed by the Qatari government.”

Picture: Reuters/Stringer

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