Al-Jazeera on trial press conference in Washington
CAIRO – 23 June 2017: Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy held a news conference titled “Al Jazeera on Trial” on Thursday in Washington to disclose facts about the Qatari Al-Jazeera’s illegal editorial policy.
Fahmy had spent more than a year in prison in Egypt, in the case known as “The Marriott Cell,” for charges of affiliation to the “terrorist-designated” Muslim Brotherhood, fabricating news to serve their agenda, operating without proper operational licenses and using unlicensed equipment. He was granted a presidential pardon in September 2015.
The conference revealed some testimonies of Fahmy and other journalists as well as employees associated with the Al-Jazeera channel.
Fahmy said he found out that the Arabic and English Al Jazeera channels illegally used the Egyptian state TV satellite broadcast truck to broadcast the six-week Rabaa Al Adewya sit-in, knowing that members of the Muslim Brotherhood violently hijacked the truck.
The sit-in started during the first week of July and ended in mid-August, three weeks before Fahmy started his job as bureau chief of the English network.
Al Jazeera lawyer Farag Fathi, who represented the channel’s reporters Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed in the same case, said that he has emails that prove Al Jazeera was working against the interests of the defendants on trial.
He also objected to a $150 million compensation claim Al Jazeera filed against the Egyptian government in London and most recently in Washington. Fathi said the lawsuit might jeopardize the defense’s case and affect any sympathetic reaction he might have been able to earn from the court.
Fathi also said that Al Jazeera was more interested in slandering Egypt than freeing its staff.
“Al Jazeera is using my clients. I have emails from (the channel) telling me they don’t care about the defendants and care about insulting Egypt,” Fathy was quoted by AFP.
During the conference, the journalists learned that Al Jazeera did not have the proper licenses to operate in Egypt.
The journalists repeatedly had asked the managers in Doha about the legality of their operation from the Marriott in Egypt.
They were told numerous times that they were operating legally and Fahmy was personally asked to “focus on the editorial responsibilities to the legal department in Doha.”
The Supreme Administrative Court in Egypt, that only considers Egypt’s international cases, upheld in March 2016 a court decision banning Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr.
In September 2014, the court banned the channel from airing in Egypt. The court said Al Jazeera had failed to maintain necessary objectivity and betrayed the media code of honor in its coverage of Egyptian events.
Since May, Qatar’s relations with several Arab states have been strained over a leaked statement attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, criticizing Gulf foreign policy with Iran, describing it as “unwise”.
The Qatari crisis was escalated when Egypt and a coalition of Arab states in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced a coordinated diplomatic break with Qatar, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The Arab countries, in dispute with Qatar, accused the peninsular country of funding Islamist terrorists, in part, via the Doha-based Al Jazeera satellite channel.
Here are photo copies of the testimonies of former Al-Jazeera staff members on the violations committed by the Qatari channel: