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Journalist Fahmy to sue Al-Jazeera for Egypt 'negligence'

image copyrightReuters
image captionProsecutors are set to begin their closing arguments in Mohamed Fahmy's trial next month

An Al-Jazeera journalist on trial in Egypt is suing the Qatar-based network for negligence, his lawyer says.

Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian citizen, filed a lawsuit at a court in Canada last week seeking 100m Canadian dollars ($83m; £53m) in damages, Joanna Gislason said in Cairo.

Mr Fahmy and two other journalists were jailed last year for spreading false news to help a terrorist group.

But their convictions were overturned on appeal and a retrial was ordered.

The journalists strenuously deny collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood after the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi by the military in 2013. They say they were jailed simply for reporting the news.

'Media war'

Ms Gislason, a Vancouver-based member of Mr Fahmy's legal team, said she had filed a lawsuit at a court in British Columbia on 5 May.

image copyrightAP
image captionThe first trial of the journalists was widely condemned internationally

The lawsuit asked the court to declare Al-Jazeera negligent in its conduct towards its English channel's Cairo bureau chief, and sought punitive and remedial damages for its role in his conviction and subsequent imprisonment, she was cited as saying by the Reuters news agency.

After his release on bail in February, Mr Fahmy accused Al-Jazeera of "epic negligence".

"It is an infringement on freedom of speech to silence three innocent, recognised journalists," he told the Associated Press. "Yet a very important aspect of this case is Qatar abusing its Al-Jazeera Arabic platform in waging a media war against Egypt."

image copyrightReuters
image captionBaher Mohamed, an Egyptian producer for Al-Jazeera, is in the dock with Mr Fahmy

The network has denied allegations by the Egyptian authorities that its Arabic channel and local affiliate, Mubasher Misr, served as mouthpieces for Mr Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, which were both backed by Qatar.

In the AP interview, Mr Fahmy also accused senior managers at Al-Jazeera of failing to provide the English channel's staff with enough security, to explain to Egyptian officials that it was different from the Arabic channels, and to provide the required press passes or equipment permits.

Al-Jazeera has stressed that "nobody takes safety more seriously", and said that lacking accreditation is an administrative matter that should never have landed the journalists in criminal court.

Canadian passport

Prosecutors are expected to begin their closing arguments in Mr Fahmy's trial on 1 June.

image copyrightAP
image captionAustralian correspondent Peter Greste, deported in February, is being tried in absentia

His two co-defendants are Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian producer, and Australian correspondent Peter Greste, who was deported to his home country in February.

Mr Fahmy gave up his Egyptian citizenship to also qualify for deportation earlier this year, but only received a temporary Canadian passport at the end of April.

The first trial of the journalists, at which they were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison, was widely condemned internationally and Egypt's Court of Cassation ordered a retrial after ruling in January that the original court had been "hasty in pronouncing its verdict".

Related Topics

  • Canada
  • Egypt