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'Epic Negligence': Freed Journalist Mohamed Fahmy Sues Al Jazeera for $100 Million

Network failed to protect or support three journalists imprisoned in Egypt over Arab Spring reporting, lawsuit charges

Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste in court in Cairo in March. (Photograph: Heba Elkholy/AP)

Mohamed Fahmy, the Al Jazeera journalist who spent more than a year in prison in Egypt, is suing the network for $100 million for negligence and other damages.

Fahmy, a Canadian citizen who formerly served as Al Jazeera's Cairo bureau chief, announced at a press conference Monday in Cairo that he would "set the record straight and put Al Jazeera on trial in Canada's top court."

"The network not only deceived us journalists, breached contract and acted negligently toward us before the arrest, they also failed to reimburse me for my full legal fees," Fahmy said.

Fahmy and two of his colleagues, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, were imprisoned in Cairo in December 2013 after being convicted of aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, among other charges stemming from their coverage of the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

He is suing Al Jazeera for not heeding security warnings, misinforming the journalists about the network's legal status, and airing his reports on its Egyptian channel, Jazeera Mubashir Masr, which was banned in the country for an alleged bias in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt had deemed a terrorist organization. His lawyers filed the suit in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

The Associated Press reports:

Fahmy said it would be "naive" and "misleading" to see the case purely as a crackdown on press freedom, because it was complicated by Al Jazeera's "negligence" and Qatar's use of the outlet to "wage a media war" against Cairo.

"I am not losing sight of who put me in prison," he said, referring to the Egyptian prosecutors, who failed to present any evidence related to the terror charges in a trial widely condemned by rights groups and major media outlets.

"However, Al Jazeera's epic negligence has made our situation harder, more difficult, and gave our captor more firepower," Fahmy said in an interview at his family home in a Cairo suburb.

Originally sentenced to seven years, Fahmy was released on conditional bail in February after more than 400 days in prison. He also renounced his Egyptian nationality in an effort to be deported to Canada, where he is also a citizen. He is still awaiting transfer.

An Al Jazeera spokesperson told CNN that the accusations were "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."

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