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Mohamed Fahmy calls for more protection for journalists on World Press Freedom Day

Last year, on World Press Freedom Day, Mohamed Fahmy was in prison. Now, the Canadian journalist hopes to help others in similar situations with his new foundation.

Canadian journalist hopes to help other journalists behind bars

Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy is currently out on bail while on trial in Cairo on terror-related charges. (AFP/Getty Images)

Last year, on World Press Freedom Day, Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy was in prison and had a message for the judge responsible for his potential exoneration.

"I told the judge the world is watching him and he should realize journalism is a right for people to be informed and for journalists to be protected," Fahmy told On the Coast's Stephen Quinn.

The Al-Jazeera journalist spent over a year in prison on terror-related charges before being granted bail. He launched the Fahmy Foundation for a Free Press in February 2015.

Fahmy spoke to On the Coast's Stephen Quinn from Egypt about what he hopes his organization can offer journalists.

What's the latest on your re-trial?

My re-trial has reached a very important phase. Last week the technical committee in charge of evaluating whether our videos were fabricated came back and said they were not.It's a huge victory and could be a path to my exoneration. The next hearing is on May 9.

Three months ago, you were still in prison. People around the world were campaigning for your release. What did that campaigning mean to you?

I was in solitary confinement for over a month with no outing, no light and no way of telling time but I got snippets of news of what was happening outside. That is what really kept me going through these very difficult times.

When I came out of prison I realized how big the support I got was. I have been very serious about helping these journalists who are still behind bars because I know what they need most is that global support.

There are already a number of press freedom organizations doing really great work. Where will your organization fit in relation to the others?

I bring something new to the arena. My organization will also provide financial assistance to journalists behind bars. I paid for most of my legal fees during my imprisonment. I have a lot of contacts in the Middle East region and I want to use that connection to help other journalists behind bars.

To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Mohamed Fahmy on World Press Freedom Day.



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