When journalist Mohamed Fahmy announced his $100 million lawsuit against the Al Jazeera Media Network, he didn't explain the allegations of negligence in detail.
Fahmy's "open letter" to the network, published Wednesday on Egyptian Streets, gave his account of the reporters' arrest and how they were caught in the crossfires of the conflict between Qatar and Egypt.
"The Network will use any means at its disposal to attain Qatar’s foreign policy objectives," Fahmy wrote, adding that the negligence "left us as pawns in a cold war" between the two countries.
If Fahmy's account is confirmed, it would discredit Al Jazeera as a legitimate news organization and, unfortunately, any good journalism it's produced altogether. Because, well, it sounds bad. Really bad. Here's the gist of it:
1. Fahmy asked Al Jazeera if they were operating legally in Egypt, and Al Jazeera said they were; the network lied. The channel didn't have the proper broadcast licenses — a misdemeanor worth up to three years in jail — knowingly breaking the country's laws and placing its working journalists in danger.
2. The network used Al Jazeera English broadcasts and overlaid it with Arabic voiceovers for its channel Mubasher Misr, the banned, pro-Muslim Brotherhood propaganda channel, even after the Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organization. AJE journalists appeared to work for Mubasher Misr, even though they were supposed to be operating independently.
3. The network didn't just support the Muslim Brotherhood but also sponsored them. Activists used money obtained by Al Jazeera to put up banners and buy food for their protesters.
4. The network continued to attack the Egyptian government while its journalists were in jail. The lawyer who was supposed to represent the reporters quit a month before the verdict told the judge the network was suing Egypt for $150 million in compensation and had fabricated his quotes on the Mubasher Misr channel.
5. Al Jazeera refused to pay compensation for Fahmy's legal fees. Only after pressure from the Committee to Project Journalists and the Media Legal Defense Initiative did the network partially compensate him.
Read the whole thing here.
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