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Their fate was broadcast on news channels around the world, but now the story of three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned by the Egyptian authorities is being developed for the big screen.
The Marriott Cell will be based on the upcoming memoir by Mohamed Fahmy, who in 2013 was arrested in Cairo alongside his colleagues Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste. The trio were charged with aiding a “terrorist organization,” in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, and sentenced to seven years.
Their incarceration brought instant condemnation from around the world, with Egypt’s new military government accused of clamping down on press freedom. Amal Clooney was Fahmy’s lawyer, and would eventually secure his release and official pardon in September 2015, but not before he had spent over 400 days in Egypt’s Scorpion Prison, the maximum-security facility that also housed Al Qaeda and ISIS extremists.
Michael Bronner — a former 60 Minutes journalist and co-producer on Paul Greengrass‘ Green Zone, Captain Phillips and United 93 — is on board to write the adaptation, which is being put together by U.K.-based The Development Partnership alongside acclaimed Egyptian actor-producer Amr Waked (Lucy, Syriana, Marco Polo). Waked will also star as Fahmy.
“What attracts me to The Marriott Cell — aside from its setting in the wrenching tumult of Egypt’s revolution and the sheer outrage at the imprisonment of journalists on trumped up terrorism charges — is the intimate journey of these three wrongfully accused men who realize, in the confines of their squalid, shoebox cell, that there is no credible system by which they can prove their innocence in court,” said Bronner. “Incredibly, Fahmy, while literally still shackled in prison, makes a gut call to go on offensive.”
Penguin Random House will publish The Marriott Cell in October.
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