Top New: Court Orders Media Gag on Morsi’s Qatar Espionage Trial

An Egyptian court on Tuesday ordered that the trial session of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and ten others on charges of spying to Qatar be held as a closed session, citing national security concerns.


Committee to begin reviewing elections law
Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab ordered on Monday the formation of a committee to redraft the constituency law, which was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday. The committee is headed by Transitional Justice Minister Ibrahim al-Heneidi, according to a cabinet statement. Meanwhile, Egypt’s administrative court on Tuesday issued a ruling confirming the indefinite delay of the upcoming parliamentary elections, previously scheduled to start on March 21. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, AP, Reuters, Mada Masr, 3/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Minister exempts foreign officials’ aircrafts from navigation fees | Egypt Independent


Court orders media gag on Morsi’s Qatar espionage trial
An Egyptian court on Tuesday ordered that the trial session of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and ten others on charges of spying to Qatar be held as a closed session, citing national security concerns. Morsi faces charges of using his post to leak classified documents to Qatar, with the help of his secretaries and other defendants. The classified documents allegedly include information on general and military intelligence, the armed forces, its armaments and the state’s policy secrets. He is also accused of inciting to kill protesters outside the presidential palace during his tenure, insulting the judiciary, and escaping prison during the January 2011 uprising. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 3/3/2015]

Slaughtered dog owner sentenced to prison in absentia
A Criminal Court has sentenced Mohamed Sayed and his nephew to life in prison over charges of theft under duress using a ferocious animal. According to investigations, the defendants used Mohamed Sayed’s dog to commit theft under duress, harass women, and terrorize citizens. Eyewitnesses, as well as Mohamed Sayed, said the dog was killed following a fight between Sayed and other residents from Al-Ahram Street, during which the dog defended his owner and bit eight people. Two of the men who were bitten filed a claim against Mohamed Sayed, who was sentenced to one year in prison. The men refused to waive the claim unless Mohamed Sayed handed them over the dog for public slaughter, which he accepted. The lack of animals rights laws in Egypt prevents them from being referred to court over the slaughter of the dog. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 3/3/2015]

Ittihadiya defendants’ fate uncertain amid conflicting reports
The fate of the Ittihadiya defendants remains uncertain following a series of conflicting statements made in reaction to a list of defendants supposedly to be released soon. State-run newspaper Al-Gomhorriya had reported early Tuesday morning that the defendants were to be pardoned, publishing a list of names as part of the report. Defense lawyer Halim Heneish meanwhile told Mada Masr that the attorney general at the East Cairo Prosecution had told him and another lawyer that a list of defendants to be released would be announced within hours—some of whom were serving sentences for violating the Protest Law. However, the attorney general later retracted his statements, Heneish claimed, denying that there is even a list. He added that if defendants were to be released, they would be in cases outside of Cairo—therefore ruling out the Ittihadiya case. [Mada Masr, 3/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Hurghada policeman sentenced to six months in prison for abducting shop owner | Egypt Independent
  • Sons of prominent Egyptian Salafist jailed for murder | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
  • Egypt’s Pharmacists Syndicate under judicial supervision for third time | Ahram Online
  • Court upholds engineer’s life sentence over nuke leaks to Israel | Egypt Independent
  • 2011 Cabinet Clashes case retrial adjourned to March 9 | Egypt Independent
  • Ahmed Ezz’s steel licenses retrial postponed to May 5 | EGYNews (Arabic)


Sixty countries to take part in Sharm al-Sheikh economic conference
Sixty countries are going to participate in the Sharm al-Sheikh economic conference scheduled to be held in mid-March, including Russia and the United States, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday. A spokesperson from the ministry said that US Secretary of State John Kerry, China’s Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, and Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov would participate in the conference. He added that Egypt is in talks with the twenty-eight EU member countries about their anticipated participation in the conference. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 3/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt delays target for repaying firms $3.1 billion until mid-2016 | Reuters
  • New oil discovery at Hurghada with 9.6 million barrels reserve | SIS
  • Minister: Egypt to generate additional 70 GW of electricity in next ten years | Egypt Independent
  • Butane gas cylinders’ crisis continues | Egypt Independent
  • Two Egyptian families dominate wealth with US$21.5 billion, says Forbes | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt to add cooking oil to smart card system in months – minister | Reuters


Student union elections canceled for legal reasons  
Students across Egypt are outraged after the High Council of Universities (HCU) canceled this year’s student union elections for “legal reasons.” The elections cannot take place because the electoral period mandated by HCU bylaws has already passed, explained Higher Education Minister Sayed Abdel Khalek, who also heads the HCU. Bylaws stipulate that student union elections must be held no later than six weeks after the academic year begins. However, “the bylaws themselves were issued two months after the academic year began, so there’s no time to hold the elections this year,” Higher Education Ministry spokesperson Adly Reda said. If the elections were held regardless of the bylaws, they would effectively be illegal and thus could easily be appealed in court, he added. [Mada Masr, 3/2/2015]


Five small bombs destroy private cars in Cairo’s Matariya
Five improvised bombs exploded early Tuesday in Cairo’s Mattariya district in an apparent targeting of Vodafone and Mobinil mobile-phone stores, the latest in a series of attacks which affected the communication shops. The bombings, which caused no casualties, damaged ten private cars and seven shop facades on Mattariya’s main street. A bomb was defused in the New Cairo district of Tagammu, according to the interior ministry. Cairo was also hit by two blasts late Monday evening. A sound bomb detonated outside Nozha police station in Cairo’s Heliopolis, with no casualties reported. Another explosion caused by an improvised explosive device in Maadi, destroying two cars. Security sources said the bombs were planted beneath cars owned by policemen of Zahraa al-Maadi police station. No casualties were reported. Meanwhile, two civilians injured in the blast outside the Cairo High Court on Monday died as a result of their injuries hours after the attack. [Ahram Online, 3/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Civilian shot dead, one kidnapped by unknown assailants in Sheikh Zuweid | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)
  • Eleven militants killed, several terrorist havens destroyed in North Sinai | EGYNews (Arabic)


Al-Azhar says ISIS backed by Western agencies
Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb said on Monday that Islamic State militants are backed by Western agencies seeking to divide the Middle East and the Islamic World. Tayyeb said he supports President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s proposal for a joint Arab defense force to combat extremist militias who are fighting to establish an Islamic Caliphate. The Sheikh’s remarks came during a meeting in Cairo with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Islamic Affairs, Tawfiq al-Sudairi. Meanwhile, Al-Azhara also strongly decried a statement made by Sir John Sawers, ex-director of MI6, about Islam on BBC Radio 4. The statements claim that the Islamic religion ‘as a whole’ is not geared to reviving and modernizing itself. Al-Azhar explained Islam’s potential for revival and modernization, arguing that Sawers’ remarks could give rise to deepened enmity and divide. [Egypt Independent, 3/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Attempts to damage Saudi – Egypt ties will fail: Egyptian ambassador | Asharq al-Awsat
  • Foreign ministry criticizes statement by UN special coordinator for Middle East, Robert Serry,  over Gaza | EGYNews (Arabic)
  • Addis Ababa continues to assure downstream nations over dam project | Ahram Online
  • Khartoum talks over Renaissance Dam to begin | Aswat Masriya
  • Hamas says terrorist brand threatens Egypt role in Gaza politics | DPA
  • Ninety-six Chinese and Taiwanese citizens sentenced to prison over passing international calls | MENA
  • Sisi: Egyptian-Russian relations strong, stable and historical | SIS
  • Germany lifts travel ban on all Egyptian tourist destinations | SIS
  • EgyptAir evacuates 6,699 Egyptians from Libya via Tunisia, expands services to Algeria | Mada Masr
  • Poll: a more hardline Israeli government could compromise ties with Egypt | Egypt Independent
  • Foreign Office accused of cover-up about trade mission to Sisi’s Egypt | The Independent
  • Egypt, Tunisia discuss situation in Libya | SIS
  • Arab League secretary-General condemns High Court bombing, supports Egypt’s efforts in fighting terrorism | Shorouk (Arabic)