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Mohamed Fahmy is an Egyptian-Canadian author and journalist, speaking on topics such as freedom of expression, human rights, corporate media responsibility, journalism in conflict zones, and extremism. Fahmy spent years reporting from the Middle East for CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Foreign Policy, and covered the Iraq War for the LA Times (which formed the basis of his first book, Baghdad Bound). He served as a delegate for the Red Cross to protect the rights of political prisoners, the missing, and refugees in Beirut. He received a Peabody Award for his coverage of the Arab Spring, and co-authored the Egyptian Freedom Story: a photo documentary of the January Revolution of 2011. He also received the Tom Renner Investigative Reporting Award for the documentary Death in the Desert, which exposes the trafficking of Sub-Saharan Africans to Israel.
In 2013, he accepted the title of Al Jazeera English Bureau Chief in Cairo. There, he was arrested by Egyptian authorities, who falsely accused him of conspiring with a terrorist group and fabricating news to serve the group’s agenda. He was imprisoned in the Tora maximum security prison where he spent a month in solitary confinement and over 400 days living with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. After unprecedented outcry from international press freedom organizations and the diplomatic community—and with 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 for Free Press: an NGO and non-profit dedicated to supporting journalists imprisoned worldwide. Upon his release, he appeared 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, this year’s Freedom to Read award from the Writers’ Union of Canada, and a certificate from UNESCO during his incarceration. Today he teaches at UBC 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. He is collaborating with Amnesty International on a charter to protect Canadian citizens imprisoned abroad, and is completing a memoir on his experiences. Tentatively titled The Marriott Cell, the book is set for a fall 2016 publication, and will be developed into a feature film by The Development Partnership.