‘Al Jazeera on Trial’ by ex-journalists, academics in Washington
Washington- Two former Al Jazeera journalists have accused the Qatari-owned media network of breaching journalistic ethics and explicitly supporting terrorists.
The accusations were made by former Al Jazeera employees Mohamed Fahmy and Mohamed Fawzy during a news conference in Washington. They also announced the launch of website “Al Jazeera on Trial,” which will document a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed against the outlet.
“Just as we expect governments to abide by basic human rights, we also expect news outlets like Al Jazeera to respect the ethics of journalism, stop endangering the lives of its staff and refrain from sponsoring groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and [Jabhat] al-Nusra — an affiliate of al-Qaeda — and other terrorist groups,” Fahmy said.
The former Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief criticised the channel’s decision to broadcast a weekly programme featuring Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi, during which the Egyptian cleric in exile explicitly supported terrorism.
Fahmy was convicted in 2014 of collaborating with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and fabricating news stories. He served 438 days in prison. Fawzy, a former Al Jazeera cameraman, was convicted of the same charges in absentia.
During his prison term, Fahmy said Muslim Brotherhood prisoners confirmed the extent of their “unethical and illegal” relationship with Al Jazeera, including Muslim Brotherhood activists who sold footage to the network that was broadcast without sourcing or vetting.
“This is not citizen journalism… It’s taking sides in the conflict and endangering the lives of your reporters,” Fahmy said.
David Pollock, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute and director of Project Fikra, said Al Jazeera’s “popularity” and “credibility” had greatly diminished in recent years.
Pollock, who is also a former US State Department senior adviser on the Middle East, said: “Al Jazeera transformed into the official mouthpiece of Qatar and other extremist groups, most prominently the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The panel discussed how Al Jazeera would publish articles and reports in Arabic supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, while reserving more neutral content for their English-language media. “English speakers cannot understand as a whole what Al Jazeera is all about if all they do is watch Al Jazeera English,” he said.
As for what happens next with the Qatari crisis, Pollock said: “There is still room for Qatar and Al Jazeera to make adjustments without making a fundamental change… but I am not certain that the countries that are isolating Qatar will accept this. We are truly living in surprising times.