Mohamad Fahmy spent more than 400 days in an Egyptian prison. Authorities arrested Fahmy, the bureau chief for Al Jazeera English, on charges he helped a terrorist organization.
Egypt eventually pardoned Fahmy, and now he is suing his former employer.
“While I was in prison in Egypt and met members of the Muslim Brotherhood who confirmed to me that the network had given them cameras, live transmission equipment and used their footage without the knowledge of us, professional reporters which contributed to our already tough situation in Egypt,” Fahmy said.
When he filed his lawsuit in 2015, Al Jazeera denied the charges.
Months before Fahmy’s arrest, Egypt’s military overthrew the elected Muslim Brotherhood government. Qatar’s government sponsors Al Jazeera and is sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. Just one of the many examples of the deep and complicated rivalries and conflicts among Middle East countries, as several – like Saudi Arabia and Egypt – have severed ties with Qatar.
In this latest diplomatic encounter, President Trump is taking sides.
“One of the big things that we did – and you’re seeing it now with Qatar and all of the things that are actually going on in a very positive fashion – we are stopping the funding of terrorism. They are going to stop the funding of terrorism,” President Trump said.
A State Department official said over the past week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – in about a dozen phone calls – has spoken to his counterparts in the region, attempting to end the diplomatic standoff.
Secretary Tillerson has publicly called for calm and thoughtful dialog – nothing Qatar has improved on fighting terrorist financing, though adding it needs to do so more quickly.
Qatar denies the charges and has hired former attorney general John Ashcroft’s firm to advocate for Qatar and detail its counterterrorism efforts.
According to a federal filing, Ashcroft himself “will enlist the support and expertise of former key government leaders, including former officials who held very senior positions within the intelligence community, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security as necessary.”
Without naming them, President Trump has suggested other countries in the region need to a better job of confronting terrorist financing. And now other countries besides the United States are becoming more involved in trying to resolve this diplomatic crisis – like Russia, Iran, Turkey and even France, with its new president, Emmanuel Macron.