Top News: Kerry Meets with Sisi on Sunday and US Aid is Released; Jazeera Journalists Sentenced to Jail on Monday

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Sunday to hold talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The United States has released about $575 million of the suspended funds to Egypt over the past ten days, Reuters reported an unnamed State Department official as saying. Meahwhile, three Al Jazeera journalists were sentenced to seven years in a maximum security prison in Egypt on Monday after a court convicted them of helping a “terrorist organization” and spreading false news. 

POLITICS

Sisi confirms parliamentary election procedures before July 18
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi confirmed on Sunday during his talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry that procedures that would pave the way for a parliamentary election would start before July 18, state television reported. It gave no immediate details or dates for the vote itself. The procedures are expected to include the regulations and set the time frame and eligible candidates for the vote. Meanwhile, The Salafi Nour Party has said it may form a coalition with civil parties for the upcoming parliamentary elections, with a final decision on partners yet to be made. Speaking in an interview with al-Hayah on Sunday, Nour’s Assistant Head Ashraf Thabet said, “There are a number of civil parties close to our orientations with whom we can form a coalition.” Thabet added that it is essential in any coalition to put aside partisan and personal interests, instead focusing on the common good. [Reuters, 6/22/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • PM says not reforming subsidy system is treason | Egypt Independent
  • Prime Minister says Egypt’s cabinet is transparent | Mada Masr
  • Egypt’s Sisi to give speech at AU summit | Ahram Online

COURTS

Jazeera journalists sentenced to seven to ten years in jail
Three Al Jazeera journalists were sentenced to seven years in a maximum security prison in Egypt on Monday after a court convicted them of helping a “terrorist organization” and spreading false news. The Al Jazeera journalists in custody include Australian Kenya-based correspondent Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian national and Cairo bureau chief, Mohamed Fahmy. The third defendant, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, received an additional three-year jail sentence on a separate charge involving possession of a bullet. Four other defendants in custody were sentenced to seven years in jail. Eleven co-defendants, tried in absentia, received ten year terms each, including two British citizens, and a Dutch national. Two defendants, including the son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed al-Beltagy were acquitted. Greste was the only defendant who received the maximum sentence. Judicial sources told Reuters the verdicts could be appealed before a higher court and a pardon was still possible, while according to Egyptian law, all those sentenced in absentia are granted an automatic retrial. Al Jazeera urged Egypt to overturn the court ruling, while Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said in a statement that the sentence “defies logic.” [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, AP, Egypt Independent, The Guardian, 6/23/2014]

Egypt court upholds death sentences for 183 Brotherhood supporters, Supreme Guide
Minya Criminal Court upheld death sentences Saturday passed on 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters, including Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie. The defendants were charged with assembling, threatening national security to carry out criminal acts and preventing the authorities from attending to their duties with force and violence. They were found guilty of attacking Adawa Police Station and killing a police officer, Mamdouh Kotb Mohamed Kotb, on 14 August 2013, following the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins in Raba’a al-Adawiya and Nahda square. The court acquitted 496 others in the case, while four were given life sentences. Rights group Amnesty International on Saturday strongly criticized the verdict and accused the judiciary of losing “any semblance of impartiality.” Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat appealed all the verdicts issued by the court, “to ensure a fair process and rightful application of the law,” a statement from the prosecution’s office said on Sunday. The Muslim Brotherhood described the trial “a horrid, heinous crime unprecedented in history.” [Reuters, AP, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 6/22/2014]

Prosecutor detains twenty-four after police disperse anti-protest law
A protest on Saturday in Cairo against Egypt’s protest law was dispersed after groups of people threw rocks and glass bottles at the protesters. Police forces subsequently deployed teargas to disperse the crowds. Police forces also arrested a number of demonstrators in Heliopolis who were on their way to join the protest, a security source said. The Way of the Revolution Front, April 6 Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists, Misr Al-Qawia and Al-Dostour Party were among the groups participating in the protest. According to Freedom for the Brave, those arrested included Sana Seif, sister of jailed blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah. Al-Shorouk daily also confirmed its journalist Samer Omar was among those arrested in addition to a photographer from Al-Badeel news website. Additionally, the April 6 Youth Movement issued a statement denouncing the attack on the peaceful protest, announcing that four of its members have been detained. Meanwhile, Mada Masr reported that the prosecution had started interrogating twenty-four protesters in a Heliopolis court after they were arrested on Saturday evening while marching to the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace. According to lawyer Marwa Farouk, who attended the interrogations with the defendants, they face charges of vandalism and protesting without permit. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, DNE, 6/21/2014]

Also of Interest:

ECONOMY

Egypt taking oil shipments for June needs despite free Gulf fuel-official
Egypt is receiving fuel shipments to cover its needs for this month, an energy official said on Friday, despite $6 billion of free fuel given by its Gulf allies after the army took power last year. Amr Mostafa, vice president of the state-run Petroleum Authority for Operations, noted in a statement that fuel consumption spikes in the summer months when many Egyptians travel from Cairo to the Mediterranean coast. Egyptian officials have recently said that aid in the form of refined oil products from Gulf oil producers Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait will continue until at least September. [Reuters, 6/21/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt fails to make the cut in top 20 Arab Companies list: Forbes Middle East | DNE
  • Housing Ministry offers 1,496 plots of industrial land | DNE
  • Egypt: 55 percent of new budget to allocate for social dimensions program | Cairo Post
  • Egyptian gas production rates decrease to 4.65 bcf per day | DNE
  • World Bank to fund $500 million natural gas project in Upper Egypt | Cairo Post
  • Egypt targets $10 bn in FDI in 2015-2016: Minister | Ahram Online
  • Egypt has no choice but to use coal in high-energy industry: Minister | Ahram Online

SOCIETY & MEDIA

Tahrir anchorwoman suspended after live row with Ethiopian envoy
An Egyptian broadcaster, Rania Badawy, has been suspended for arguing with Ethiopia’s ambassador to Cairo during a live TV phone-in about Addis Ababa’s ongoing Nile dam project. On Wednesday, Badawy, a talk show host on the privately-owned Tahrir satellite channel, got into a heated argument with Ethiopian envoy Mahmoud Dardir over the Grand Renaissance Dam, a multi-billion hydroelectric dam that has been a source of contention between the two countries for over a year. The head of the TV station, Mohamed Khedr, told Al-Ahram on Sunday that the move to suspend Badawy came amid his channel’s “sense of responsibility,” adding that the management was revamping the program map ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. In addition, Khedr said Sunday that Maha Bahnassy, who was suspended after making light of mob sexual assaults against women in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during celebrations for President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s inauguration earlier this month, would return to the airwaves after Ramadan. [Ahram Online, 6/22/2014]

Activists file legal complaint against writer advocating street children killing
Several Alexandria-based rights lawyers filed a legal complaint on Saturday against an op-ed writer who wrote approvingly in an article about the killing of street children in Brazil by security forces. In an op-ed published on Friday in Al-Masry Al-Youm daily, academic Nassar Abdullah suggested that the “solution” to the problem of street children in Egypt is to follow what he describes as the “Brazilian solution,” referring to the killing of homeless children by Brazilian security forces in the 1990s. The op-ed was pulled from the paper’s website on Friday after thousands of Egyptians took to Twitter and Facebook calling on the newspaper to pull the op-ed and apologize. Lawyers Mohamed Ramadan of the Arab Network for Human Rights as well as Mohamed Maghraby, Dalia Salah and Omnia Salem of the Egyptian Institution for Raising the Status of Children have filed a legal complaint accusing Nassar of inciting murder and putting the lives of children at risk. [Ahram Online, 6/21/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Supreme Council for Culture head resigns ahead of State Awards vote | Ahram Online
  • Sisi attends graduation ceremony of 81st batch of Air Force Academy | SIS
  • Sisi attends graduation of new NCOs | SIS
  • Families hold conference to discuss hunger striking relatives in Egypt jails | Aswat Masriya
  • Hunger striking detainee Soltan back to prison despite health concerns | Mada Masr

SECURITY

Senior police officer shot dead in Sohag
A senior police officer was shot dead on Monday during a gunfight with members of an alleged kidnapping gang in Sohag, Upper Egypt, state news agency MENA reported. The operation’s purpose was to capture a number of dangerous criminals known for kidnappings, MENA added. When the authorities arrived to the scene, the criminals began shooting at them, resulting in an exchange of fire that killed police officer Colonel Elhamy Abdel-Moneim. [Ahram Online, 6/23/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt forces kill eight militants, arrest twenty-six others in Sinai offensive | Ahram Online
  • Sisi: Foreign fighters involved in the region’s struggles | Egypt Independent
  • Another 150 Egyptian drivers abducted Sunday in Libya | Egypt Independent

INTERNATIONAL

Al-Jazeera verdict triggers international condemnation
Foreign officials and human rights organizations have widely condemned the jailing of seven defendants, including three Al Jazeera reporters, for seven to ten years in a maximum security prison for helping a terrorist organization and spreading false news. Britain said on Monday it was summoning the Egyptian ambassador over what it said was the “appalling” sentencing of the three Al Jazeera journalists. Foreign Secretary William Hague said that British ministers and diplomats would urge the Egyptian government to review the case “as a matter of urgency” and that Britain’s views would be made known to the Egyptian ambassador in a meeting on Monday. Meanwhile, Australia said on Monday that it was “appalled” at the sentence given to Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, saying it undermined Cairo’s claim to be transitioning to democracy. “The Australian government simply cannot understand it based on the evidence that was presented in the case,” said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. The Netherlands also said on Monday it was summoning the Egyptian ambassador to protest the “disappointing” verdict against Dutch journalist Rena Netjes. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, AP, 6/23/2014]

US releases $575 million of suspended funds to Egypt; Kerry meets with Sisi in Cairo
The United States has released about $575 million of the suspended funds to Egypt over the past ten days, Reuters reported an unnamed State Department official as saying. The released funds will be used to pay existing defense contracts, the State Department official said. US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Sunday to hold talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Kerry urged Egypt to safeguard freedoms and assure due process of law, while also promising that the ten withheld Apache helicopters will be released shortly. Kerry acknowledged progress in Egypt, highlighting Sisi’s call to review human rights legislation. He said that Sisi gave him a “strong sense of his commitment” to follow through on this process and to look at Egypt’s judicial procedures. He promised that the United States would work towards economic reform together with “friends” in the region, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to achieve stability. Egypt’s presidential spokesperson Ihab Badawy described Sisi’s meeting with Kerry as positive and constructive, saying the United States is interested in Egypt’s success and its important role in achieving peace and stability in the Middle East. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, AP, AFP, Mada Masr, 6/22/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Saudi king leaves Egypt following brief and unusual visit | Ahram Online, Reuters, AP
  • Egypt returns to African Union activity | DNE
  • FM leads Egypt’s delegation to AU FM meeting | SIS
  • Sisi invited to visit Czech Republic | SIS
  • Sisi greets Bashir on advent of Ramadan | SIS
  • Relations with US depend on mutual respect: Egypt’s FM | Ahram Online
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