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Jailed Jazeera journalists all conflict-hardened veterans

August 29, 2015

The three journalists for Al-Jazeera television’s English-language channel sentenced to three years after being convicted in a retrial of broadcasting false news are all conflict-hardened veteran correspondents.

Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were in court Saturday to hear the verdict against them, while Australian Peter Greste was freed from prison early this year and deported.

Mohamed Fahmy

Fahmy, 41, had only been named head of Al-Jazeera’s Cairo office in September 2013, three months before his arrest.

Born in Cairo, his parents emigrated to Canada in 1991 and settled in Quebec.

With the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, he worked as an interpreter for the Los Angeles Times, and wrote “An Interpreter’s Chronicles of the Iraq War” a year later.

He went on to work for Gulf television stations and then the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In 2011, CNN employed him to cover the Arab Spring revolt in Egypt, which toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

Al-Jazeera gave him the chance to settle in the city of his birth with fiancee Marwa Magid. They announced their marriage last month.

Peter Greste

Greste, 49, has covered conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

He worked for several news organisations, including Reuters and the BBC, before joining Al-Jazeera.

He was the BBC’s Kabul correspondent in 1995, where he watched the Taliban emerge, and returned after the US-led invasion in 2001.

From 2009, he was based in Nairobi, from where he covered the Horn of Africa, winning the broadcasting industry’s prestigious Peabody Award in 2011 for the documentary “Somalia: Land of Anarchy”.

Constantly on the road on reporting assignments, Sydney-born Greste has also worked in Bosnia and headed the BBC’s South American operations from Mexico.

“From a young age, Peter Greste had an adventurous spirit and a strong sense of social justice and fairness,” his supporters said on the campaigning website

Baher Mohamed

Mohamed, 31, covered the Arab Spring revolts in Libya, Yemen and Egypt.

He had worked as a freelancer for a Japanese publication before joining Al-Jazeera in mid-2013.

He has three sons, the youngest of whom was born while he was behind bars.

“Baher was always in the thick of all the violence in Egypt… He always wanted to relay the truth himself, rather than rely on other sources,” his brother Assem said.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.