Al-Jazeera Reporter "Pays Price for Being Egyptian"

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

Fairouz, the daughter of Al-Jazeera's Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, stands next to a portrait of her father on February 5, 2015 in the capital Cairo. AFP/Mohammed al-Shahed

Published Sunday, February 8, 2015

With Australian Peter Greste freed and a Canadian colleague close to release, the other Al-Jazeera journalist arrested in Cairo faces languishing in jail for an indefinite period because he has only Egyptian nationality.

Under global pressure to release the prisoners, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree tailored for Greste and colleague Mohammed Fahmy, allowing the deportation of foreigners but overlooking Baher Mohammed in the process.

Greste, an acclaimed reporter for Al-Jazeera English, was deported last week.

Fahmy, a dual national, had to renounce his Egyptian citizenship and his release and deportation to Canada is imminent, a government official said.

But in the face of delays, prominent lawyer Amal Clooney has requested a meeting with Sisi to press Fahmy's case, a letter obtained by AFP on Saturday showed, overlooking Mohammed.

"We're paying the price for being Egyptian," his embittered wife Jihan Rashid told AFP.

"It's the peak of injustice for my husband to remain in prison and be tried while his foreign colleagues are freed," Rashid said.

The three, all employees of the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera English broadcaster, were arrested in December 2013 and tried for allegedly supporting the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood in their coverage.

The trial came against the backdrop of a cold war between Egypt and Qatar, which supported the Islamist movement of President Mohammed Mursi, whom Sisi deposed in July 2013.

The three were sentenced to seven years in prison, and the court handed Mohamed an additional three years because police who searched his home found a spent bullet casing he had picked up at a protest.

Sisi's crackdown on Mursi supporters left at least 1,400 people dead and more than 15,000 imprisoned, with hundreds sentenced to death in trials the United Nations described as "unprecedented in recent history."

A court in January ordered a retrial for the three, without setting a date, but Mohammed is set to stand alone in the dock.

Qatar has since moved to mend ties with Egypt, and Al-Jazeera has closed its Arabic-language Egyptian affiliate.

Seeking new nationality

"Their deportation means in effect their innocence," the 32-year-old producer's wife said of Greste and Fahmy.

"Why should my husband remain in prison?"

His only options are an acquittal or a presidential pardon, which Sisi's office has said could only come after the retrial, his lawyer Mostafa Nagy told AFP.

Rashid, who with Mohamed has three children, one a boy born while his father was in jail, said she fears that interest in his case will fade once Fahmy is also deported.

"I am seriously working on getting him another nationality," she said, watching her three boys play in the garden of their Cairo suburb villa.

Greste's release was welcomed by the Western governments that pushed for his release and Al-Jazeera, which continues to insist all its reporters be freed.

In Egypt, however, where anti-Qatar and Islamist sentiment runs high, Mohammed is scarcely on the radar.

"The Egyptian media doesn't mention him and is unconcerned about his fate," Rashid said.

Media advocacy groups say at least 10 journalists are imprisoned in Egypt, where reporters increasingly censor themselves for fear of angering the government or being tainted as Islamists.

"Baher's crisis is part of the suffering of Egyptian journalists in general," said his father Mohamed Hazem.

In her last visit to Mohammed in prison, he flatly turned down the idea of obtaining another citizenship, Rashed said.

"I did nothing wrong to have to drop my citizenship," she quoted him as saying.

But she remains defiant: "I'm looking for another nationality for him and my children to protect their rights in the future, to find a foreign embassy to defend us in courts."

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><blockquote><span><aside>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

^ Back to Top