Injured Al Jazeera Journalist Barred from Receiving Medical Care in Egypt

Injured Al Jazeera Journalist Barred from Receiving Medical Care in Egypt

On Dec. 29, Egyptian authorities arrested Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Al Jazeera’s Cairo bureau chief, and four other journalists, charging them with "harming national security" and "spreading false news." Nine days later, Fahmy, who is suffering from a dislocated shoulder, still has not received medical treatment.

"Mohamed is currently back to prison after he was interrogated 3 times. Still not allowed to go to the hospital," Mohamed’s brother Sherif told Foreign Policy via Twitter. "We are not allowed to see or speak to him. Our only method of communication is through the lawyer."

Prior to joining Al Jazeera, Fahmy was a frequent contributor to FP, where his incisive coverage spanned from the military’s scorched-earth campaign in the Sinai Peninsula, to the geopolitical implications of soccer hooliganism, to the trial of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The arrests, allegedly for conducting "illegal" interviews with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, come as Egypt’s military-backed government is in the midst of an aggressive crackdown against Islamist and secular dissidents alike. Since the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi, a former member of the Brotherhood, in July, at least 1,000 of his supporters have been killed in clashes with security forces. Thousands more have been arrested.

On Dec. 25, authorities designating the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, a step the Qatari ambassador in Cairo slammed as a "prelude to a shoot-to-kill policy."

The crackdown on the Brotherhood has seen Egypt become an increasingly hostile environment for reporters, six of whom died in the line of duty in 2013. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Egypt is among the top 10 jailers of journalists.

Few media outfits have been worse affected than Al Jazeera. Long accused of sympathizing with the Brotherhood — in part because of its host country’s generous support for Morsi’s government — the Qatar-based media giant has been subjected to repeated raids and detentions. Fahmy, correspondent Peter Greste, and producer Baher Mohamed joined two other Al Jazeera employees in prison when they were arrested last week.

"Al Jazeera demands the immediate release of their journalists," the network said in a statement on Dec. 30. Elsewhere, it described the arrests as an "act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists."

Fahmy, a dual Egyptian and Canadian citizen, is reportedly in considerable pain as a result of a shoulder injury sustained prior to his arrest. Authorities have refused to transfer him to a hospital, however, and his condition is "getting worse," according to his brother Sherif. 

Fahmy’s brother also expressed frustration that the Canadian government has not done more to facilitate the journalist’s release. According to the Globe and Mail, Canadian consular officials have been in touch with the Egyptian government "to gather more information," but Ottawa has yet to issue a statement demanding his release.

Last year, Canada’s minister of state made repeated public appeals for the release of Canadian citizens John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, both of whom were detained in Egypt.

"[It] amazes us that not a single article was published saying that Canada is at least concerned about him," said Sherif. "Compare that to what the [C]anadian authorities have done for [T]arek [L]oubani."