Peter Greste’s Al Jazeera colleague Mohamed Fahmy, who is awaiting retrial after more than a year behind bars in Egypt on terrorism-related charges, says his Qatar-funded employer is partially to blame for his ordeal.


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.

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

Al Jazeera did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Greste, who was originally sentenced to seven years, was released and deported on February 1.

The broadcaster spearheaded a global media campaign calling for the release of the reporters, insisting they were unjustly punished for doing their job.

Egypt and Qatar have had tense relations since 2013, when the Egyptian military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi amid massive protests.

Doha is a strong backer of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in the region.

Cairo accused Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece for Morsi’s supporters, charges denied by the broadcaster.

Fahmy maintained that Al Jazeera English was doing balanced and independent reporting.

Al Jazeera’s Arabic affiliates, however, were the only remaining platform for Islamists to criticise the military-backed government after Morsi’s ouster.

Fahmy said his senior managers failed to provide the English network’s staff with enough security, and to explain to the Egyptian government that they were different from the Arabic stations.

“They should have provided a security umbrella and put the security of their staffers ahead of getting the story, because it was framed as Al Jazeera and Qatar are challenging the Egyptian government,” he said.

He also said Al Jazeera failed to provide press passes or equipment permits.

Fahmy is now raising funds for his own defence team, which includes Amal Clooney, who has waived 90 per cent of her fees, he said.

Fahmy and his Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed begin their retrial on Monday, after an appeals court threw out the case that opened last year and ended in sentencing the two to seven and ten years respectively.