Top News: Al Jazeera Journalist Detained by German Authorities Released

Al Jazeera television said on Monday German authorities had released journalist Ahmed Mansour, who was arrested at a Berlin airport on Saturday. Mansour’s arrest, which was the result of an Egyptian arrest warrant, came as he was attempting to board a plane to Doha. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had earlier said that Egypt was working with Germany to hand Mansour over to Egypt where he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison in absentia in 2014 on charges of torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011. The Prosecutor General of Egypt also reportedly called on Interpol Sunday to hand over Mansour to Egyptian authorities, while a formal extradition request was submitted to the German authorities as well. On Sunday, a judge in Berlin formally evaluated Mansour’s case and had declared his arrest legal, ordering him kept in detention pending enquiries into his possible extradition to Egypt. Al Jazeera called for Mansour’s immediate release, while a number of protests against Mansour’s potential extradition were staged on Sunday and Monday morning. A group calling itself the German-Egyptian Union for Democracy gathered around 100 protesters outside the Berlin jail where he was being detained. MPs across all of Germany’s main political parties also voiced concern. On Monday, Al Jazeera said Germany’s public prosecutor had decided to release Mansour without charges. No further details were immediately available. [Reuters, AP, Mada Masr, The Guardian, Ahram Online, 6/22/2015]


Egypt to issue new laws on terrorism, parliamentary immunity
Egypt’s Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Transitional Justice Ibrahim al-Heneidy said Sunday that the justice ministry has finalized drafting a new law aimed at cracking down on terrorist crimes. “The new 52-article anti-terrorism law is primarily aimed at stemming the tide of funding terrorist activities and organizations and giving new definitions for terrorist crimes,” said Heneidy in a press conference. Heneidy said the new draft anti-terror law will be first reviewed by the ministries of interior and defense. The articles revealed by Heneidy feature one outlining a five-year prison sentence for building or using a website with the purpose of promoting terrorist ideas and actions, transmitting delusional content to the official authorities or exchanging messages and orders of terrorist groups. Funding terrorism was also a major focus of the new draft law, as it sets a sentence of life imprisonment on the crime of funding a terrorist. It also sets the death penalty for funding terrorist groups. Meanwhile, informed sources said the cabinet will discuss a new law aimed at making the coming parliament immune to dissolution. The law would save the coming parliament from the threat of dissolution even if the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) decided to invalidate the parliament or its election laws, sources said, adding that, “The law will state that if the SCC ruled that any of the parliamentary election laws are unconstitutional, this shall not automatically lead to disbanding parliament, but it will complete its five year term.” [Ahram Online, DNE, 6/21/2015]

Governor appoints first woman to head municipality in Egypt’s Alexandria
Governor of Alexandria Hani Meseiri appointed on Saturday the first woman to ever take over a municipality head position in Egypt’s second city.  Soad Helmy is expected to take over her new position as the head of the city’s central district on Saturday, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported. Helmy’s district houses some of the city’s major attractions, the most notable being the Library of Alexandria. Before Meseiri made the appointment, only one other woman had filled a comparable seat in the North African country. Azza Sherif was named the head of Cairo’s Dokki district in September 2013. [Ahram Online, 6/20/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Ministry to purge Banna, Qaradawy, Qutb literature | Egypt Independent
  • Sisi meets head of Sinai development body | Ahram Online, SIS
  • Aboul-Fotouh’s initiative for transition in Egypt finds little support | Ahram Online
  • Egypt cabinet to discuss constitutionality of election laws amendments | Ahram Online
  • Governor announces renovation initiative in Old Cairo | Ahram Online
  • Dostour Party prepares party elections with four candidates | DNE


Over 100 strikers disciplined for “anti-Islamic” work stoppage
The vice-president of Egypt’s administrative prosecution ordered disciplinary measures against 152 cleaners, supervisors, and drivers in Upper Egypt’s Luxor for striking in demand of an increase in their wages. Judge Mohamed Hamed Diab agreed Sunday to send the 152 workers to a disciplinary committee in accordance with a new verdict issued in April by the High Administrative Court (HAC), read the prosecution’s statement. The HAC ruled that public employees who take part in sit-ins on the job could be punished for impeding the ability of public institutions to deliver services “which constitute a right for citizens.” The court said it based its legal opinion on an Islamic Sharia tenet which ordains that “warding off harm takes priority over procuring benefits.” [Ahram Online, 6/21/2015]

Muslim Brotherhood leaders referred to military trial
According to judicial sources, Mohamed Wahdan, Mahmoud Ghozlan, Mohamed Saad Elewa, Mahmoud Ezzat and sixteen other fugitive Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been referred to military trial over charges of espionage for terrorist organizations and planning to kill police and military leaders, as well as media personnel. They are also charged with destroying public property, belonging to an illegal group, inciting violence, and rioting. The trial sessions will start Tuesday, in the military area in the Hikestep military camp on the Ismailia-Cairo road. Brotherhood spokesperson Mohamed Montasser said that referring Wahdan and Elewa, among others, to military courts is “a crime against the revolution and the homeland.” [Egypt Independent, DNE, 6/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Morsi’s trial over espionage with Qatar adjourned | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Morsi, Egypt’s first former president to appear in red execution garb | Ahram Online
  • Court orders 30,000 Egyptian pounds bail for printing house owner | DNE
  • Customs authority chief: New tax evasion tactics found | Egypt Independent
  • Military tribunal sentences fourteen to life in absentia | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
  • Verdict in Shura Council Events retrial on July 13 | Egypt Independent
  • Photojournalist Shawkan’s detention renewed for forty-five more days | Mada Masr


Egypt earmarks $8 billion for fuel subsidies in 2015/2016
Egypt has earmarked 61 billion Egyptian pounds ($8 billion) for fuel product subsidies in its draft 2015/2016 budget, according to Tarek al-Molla, chairman of state-run Egyptian General Petroleum Corp (EGPC). Last week, the cabinet approved a draft of the budget for the next fiscal year but did not announce the amount allocated to fuel products subsidies. In the current fiscal year, Egypt will have spent around 70 billion pounds on petrol and natural gas products subsidies, rather than the projected 100 billion pounds. The government said in December its bill for fuel products this fiscal year would be 30 percent less than it had predicted due to sharply lower global oil prices. A switch to coal from natural gas and diesel in the cement industry also helped determine the figure, as did a change in domestic consumption, Molla said. [Reuters, 6/20/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Fuel shortages return during Ramadan | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt to receive detailed technical studies on GERD construction consequences | DNE
  • EGX dips for second day, benchmark retreats 0.5 percent | Cairo Post
  • Fitch confirms Egypt’s “B” rating, outlook is stable | DNE
  • Egypt celebrates first ferries to cross New Suez Canal | Al Arabiya


Women protest outside Cairo’s Presidential Palace for prisoners’ release
On the first anniversary of the arrest of twenty-three protesters, including seven women, in front of the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace, activists organized a female-only protest on Sunday evening to call for their release. Police formed a cordon around the women, who raised photos of detainees. Some protesters raised banners that read: “Ramadan is not the same without you.” The protesters who were detained last year included human rights defender Yara Sallam and activist Sanaa Seif. They are serving a three-year jail term over their involvement in the 2014 demonstrations outside the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace. Activist Mona Seif, who tweeted live from the event on her Twitter account, said that, at one point, police officers told the participants that it had been “enough” and asked them to leave. But the women’s stand continued for an hour as planned, she said. Meanwhile, the International Commission of Jurists urged for the release of Sallam in a statement issued on Sunday. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 6/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptian advocacy group welcomes release of 165 prisoners, questions selection criteria | Ahram Online
  • ‘Free El-Battawy’ protest at Press Syndicate | DNE
  • Egyptian Federation of Workers concerned over Workers University closure | DNE
  • Police disperse Ultras Nahdawy protest | DNE  
  • Residents complain about water cuts in Daqahliya | Egypt Independent
  • Activists circulate unknown website using presidency’s server | Egypt Independent
  • Seventy-two foreign NGOs operate in Egypt – state agency | Aswat Masriya  
  • Doma’s wife complains of ‘poor conditions’ at Cairo Prison | Cairo Post


Eight injured in North Sinai house blasts, dozen suspected militants killed
Bombings of two houses in North Sinai’s al-Arish city left eight injured, including civilians, on Monday as a dozen suspected militants were killed in security forces’ operations, source said.  The houses that were attacked belonged to policemen, security sources said. Five civilians and three policemen were injured in the blasts. On Monday dawn, military operations killed twelve individuals suspected to belong to the militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, military sources said. They included nine who were killed in aerial bombardment by Apache helicopters. Meanwhile, five suspected militants were killed and thirteen arrested in a security raid in Sheikh Zuweid on Sunday, reported Al-Ahram. The security forces also destroyed five hideouts and two cars the militants were allegedly using. Meanwhile, security forces said they detonated three explosive devices found on the same day without any losses or casualties. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, Ahram Online, 6/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Improvised bomb partially destroys Fayoum Sports Stadium wall | Ahram Online


US provides Egyptian navy with fast missile craft worth $1.1 billion
The United States delivered two fast naval vessels to Egypt’s Alexandria port last week “in support of Egypt’s security and the Egyptian people,” the US embassy in Cairo announced on Monday. The two vessels, which were delivered on June 17, represent a $1.1 billion “investment” by the US in “the bilateral strategic partnership,” the embassy said in a statement. It added that the craft would counter Egypt’s “maritime surface threats” and “provide freedom of navigation.” Meanwhile, the US issued the Country Reports on Terrorism for the year 2014 on Friday, saying Egyptian law enforcement and security personnel achieved “limited successes in battling terrorists in its territory.” The report identified two main terrorist groups in Egypt, namely Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and Cairo’s Ajnad Misr.  It also discussed the Muslim Brotherhood, designated a terrorist organization as of December 2013.  “These designations have enabled widespread crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated organizations, including mass arrests by the government and often severe sentences from the judiciary in mass trials,” the report stated. [Aswat Masriya, 6/22/2015]

Saudi Arabia probes Wikileaks embarrassing to Egyptian politicians

Saudi Arabia has said it is continuing to investigate what it has called an “electronic attack” against it, after Wikileaks published thousands of diplomatic cables from the Gulf kingdom, including several documents concerning its relations with Egypt since 2011. Wikileaks posted a document from the Saudi Foreign Ministry on Friday quoting an anonymous Egyptian official as saying that Khairat al-Shater, a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, agreed to release former President Hosni Mubarak in exchange for US$10 billion from the Gulf states, which was not welcomed by Riyadh. According to another similar leaked letter, an Egyptian official proposed that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries spearhead an initiative to pay the sums Mubarak would be fined and offer to host him in their countries due to his failing health — a move that, according to the anonymous official, would spare the military junta that temporarily ruled Egypt after Mubarak’s overthrow embarrassment in case of a release. Another document signed by Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal showed that Mostafa Bakry, a well-known journalist and commentator with close ties to the military, requested funds from the oil-rich monarchy to launch a political party, a daily paper, and a satellite TV channel to “confront Shias and back the kingdom’s positions.” According to another Wikileaks document attributed to Saudi General Intelligence said Qatar is looking forward to taking advantage of Egypt’s decline as a leader in the region following the January 25 revolution in 2011. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Cairo Post, 6/21/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt names new ambassador to Israel | AFP, DNE, Reuters, AP  
  • Egypt reopens the Rafah crossing for three days | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, SIS, Cairo Post  
  • French Foreign Minister in Cairo concerned with Palestinian peace process | Ahram Online  
  • Egypt condemns ISIS bombings in Yemen, Charleston shooting in the US | Ahram Online
  • Egypt denounces Washington Post editorial criticizing Sisi’s rule | DNE, Egypt Embassy  
  • Sisi, Shoukry tackle Palestinian issue | DNE
  • Egypt Defense Minister presents Putin with golden pistol | Egypt Independent
  • Russia offers Egypt wheat to be paid for in rubles | Egypt Independent  
  • France’s Hollande to attend New Suez Canal August inauguration | Cairo Post
  • Displaced Yemenis in Egypt continue to return home | Cairo Post