Mohamed Fadel Fahmy

Award Winning Journalist Imprisoned in Egypt for 438 Days

Mohamed Fadel Fahmy

Mohamed Fahmy is a multi-award winning Egyptian-Canadian author and journalist, speaking on topics such as freedom of expression, militant Islam, terrorism, human rights, corporate media responsibility, journalism in conflict zones, extremism, and Middle East politics.  

Fahmy escaped from Kuwait with his family during the first Gulf War in 1990. He entered Iraq on the first day of the war in 2003 with the Los Angeles Times. He spent 15 years reporting from the Middle East and North Africa for CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera English, and completed a one-year stint in 2007 with the International Committee for the Red Cross protecting the rights of political prisoners, the missing, and refugees in Beirut. 

He received a Peabody Award in 2011 alongside his CNN colleagues for his coverage of the Arab Spring, and co-authored Egyptian Freedom Story: a photo documentary of the January 25th revolution. In 2012, he received the Tom Renner Investigative Reporting Award for producing the CNN Freedom Project documentary series Death in the Desert, which exposes the trafficking of Sub-Saharan Africans to Israel. 

In his role with CNN, he reported extensively on the fall of Hosni Mubarak during the January 25th revolution and on the Syrian uprising.  He travelled to Libya during the early days of the revolution in 2011 and reported on the hunt for dictator Gaddafi, the formation of a transitional government and the rise of extremism.   

In 2012, he covered the elections that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt and was the first western journalist to interview Mohamed Al Zawahiri, the brother of the Al Qaeda leader upon his release from prison. 

In September 2013, he accepted the title of Al Jazeera English Bureau Chief in Cairo. In December of the same year the Egyptian authorities arrested him and his two colleagues and accused them of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood, designated as a terrorist group, and of fabricating news broadcast on Al Jazeera. He was unjustly convicted and imprisoned in the Tora maximum security prison where he spent a month in solitary confinement with a broken shoulder and over 438 days living with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. After unprecedented outcry from international press freedom organizations, the United Nations, and President Barack Obama, and the diplomatic community—and with the support of his attorney, Amal Clooney—he was finally pardoned of all charges and released in September of 2015.

While still in prison, Fahmy founded the Fahmy Foundation: an NGO and non-profit based in Vancouver dedicated to supporting journalists and prisoners of conscience imprisoned worldwide. 

Upon his release, he spoke at the World Forum of Democracy in Strasbourg days after the Paris attacks and met with the Secretary General of the European Council. He received the Canadian Commission World Press Freedom Award and a certificate from the UNESCO and the 2016 Freedom to Read award from the Writers’ Union of Canada. Upon his arrival to Canada he accepted a position as adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia in the Centre for Applied Ethics. He lives with a spirit of acceptance after sustaining a permanent shoulder disability from an injury that was exacerbated in prison due to medical negligence and left him with limited movement in one arm.  

In January 2016 he collaborated with Amnesty International and various Canadian lawyers in writing a 12-point protection charter to improve consular services and better protect Canadians and journalists imprisoned or risking arrest abroad, and presented it to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  

He completed a riveting book titled The Marriott Cell based on his Kafkaesque trial, was released in November 2016 and made the Globe and Mails 100 best books of 2016 after only two weeks on the shelves.  The book contains exclusive interviews he conducted behind bars with political prisoners and extremists that provides the reader with rare insights on the terrorism dominating our headlines. It is currently being be developed into a feature film by The Development Partnership in the United Kingdom. 

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  1. The Marriott Cell: An Epic Journey from Cairo's Scorpion Prison to Freedom
  2. Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Speech and Human Rights

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