#FreeAJStaff: Letter from Al Jazeera's Mohamed Fahmy on his 300th day in Egyptian prison

Friday, October 24, 2014
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Friday, October 24, 2014
October 24 marks 300 days in prison for Al Jazeera English journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed; to mark this continued injustice, Mohamed Fahmy has released a letter through his family to CJFE.
WE ARE NOT JUST JOURNALISTS, WE ARE HUMAN TOO, MEN WITH FAMILIES.
MY PATIENCE IS AT AN END!
Dear supporters, doubters, and those meddling in between, I write you on the 300th day of our intolerable imprisonment to reignite your human instinct in a message of peace. I ask you to place your political differences aside and not war with Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed, and Mohamed Fahmy. Let it be known that we languish behind bars due to the bigotry of several governments, the short sighted vision of specific professionals, and the misjudgment of people who continue to harm us three as we approach the appeal hearing on January 1, 2015. We journalists spend a lifetime drifting from wars to revolutions and back to challenge such bigotry of entities and politicians who place their interests before the well being of their own people. It’s second nature for us to spot treachery between the lines. The past three hundred days have proven to the world that compromising one journalist sparks the wrath of all. I have seen a metamorphosis taking place in many Egyptian newspapers and TV channels who had branded us terrorists from day one of our arrest back in December 2013. Their current rhetoric revolves around this new line; "Maybe those journalists in prison are not so bad after all." I suspect this miraculous evolution among the Lettermans and Oprahs of Egypt started after I wrote a one-page Arabic opinion piece that went viral in the Middle Eastern blogosphere. The article was teased in the Al Masry Al Youm paper and website a day before it was published. I thought the police would throw me in solitary confinement as punishment for smuggling the article out like they did in the past, but they never came. In the piece, I mention that I had participated as a private citizen in the June 30, 2013 protests that ultimately led to the toppling of the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group. I also stressed that my political stance should not matter as long as I leave it outside the office and not let it fog my reporting. I guess that got their attention as they yelled it out in their shows claiming me as part of their "camp." The article also introduces the much neglected details of our case, trumped up charges, and my brief defense using lingo that appeals to the average Egyptian man. Now, at least when those anchors attack us or start to defend us, they can put a name to us "criminals". It gets more awkward that I now also have to explain myself to supporters of Al Jazeera who immediately assumed I was against the June 30th protests and a Muslim Brotherhood supporter simply because I worked for a Qatari channel. These sorts of stereotypes represent the mirror-image of how polarized the region has become. I cringed then yelled as I watched in prison the former Al Jazeera Network (AJN) lawyer Farag Fathi show up on four talk-shows in one week to incriminate the channel and us journalists. His audacity has even extended to a one-page Arabic article he wrote in a pro-government newspaper where he lashed out at us three journalists with incredibly false accusations. On a whim, my fiancee residing in Egypt dug out the program's phone number and emailed it to my brother Adel who was in Kuwait. He called in on-air and attempted to minimize the damage through a diplomatic interruption. The producers rushed him off-air before he completed his rebuttal. I am shocked at the actions of the AJN lawyer who withdrew in court and handed his clients to the gallows! My only humanitarian request to this lawyer and his puppet masters is: “Leave us journalists out of your score-settling with the network and its owners!" This is a sample of the sort of tip-toeing transatlantic approach we conduct daily as a family in our battle for freedom. I have opted to remain classy and diplomatic throughout the trial but I am now forced to take another route. One of them will be revealing the whole truth in my upcoming book; "The Marriott Cell" with an introduction written by my prominent lawyer Amal Clooney. I am aware that several investigative journalists and film-makers have been digging deeper into the trenches of the case. All I ask my mentors and colleagues in our beloved craft is to focus on the context and history behind this political case to better understand it. I asked my family to minimize interaction with the press only because they are not fully informed with many facts and the chain of events that led to this complicated legal crisis. When I am freed we can celebrate the way journalists do and quote away. One must read the two-thousand pages of the "Marriott Cell" case to better understand why this circus went that far. It’s quite a number that was played on us. I recently read every page after the verdict. I flipped through the documents armed with a marker in hand and kept wondering about how its text competed with the literary fictional ingenuity of the late author Franz Kafka. The treachery, psychological brutality, betrayal, and alienation it encompasses to frame us three is epic to say the least. Ladies, and gentlemen, journalists, friends, and enemies, I genuinely appeal to you through this message of peace to remind the entities and governments contributing to our wrongful detention to settle their geopolitical differences war away from Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed, and Mohamed Fahmy. I hope you continue striking the #FreeAJStaff and #FreePressBattle drums but it will take the best legal rebuttal skills to get us out of this crisis. There is no price for Baher missing the birth of his son. There is no price either for missing my dad's brain surgery in Montreal and for losing full use of my arm. And, never a price for the pain Peter's family endures across the globe in Australia. We are not just journalists, we are human too, men with families. My patience is at an end! Mohamed Fahmy

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