Top News: Egypt Frees Israeli Held For Spying in Prisoner Swap

Egypt has freed an Israeli-Arab held in its jails for 15 years on espionage charges in exchange for the release of two Egyptians held in Israel, Egyptian and Israeli officials said on Thursday. Ouda Tarabin, An Arab Bedouin from the Negev Desert in Israel, had completed a 15-year prison sentence, Egypt’s state television reported. Tarabin was arrested in 2000 and convicted of spying after illegally crossing the Egypt-Israel border. An unspecified number of additional Egyptian nationals may also be freed at a later date, according to Ahram Online. A statement by the Israeli government, published by Reuters, confirmed the releases of Tarabin, and the two Egyptian nationals. It is not clear on what charges the Egyptian prisoners were convicted. [Ahram Online, Reuters, AP, 12/10/2015]


Egyptian ministries make little progress on transparency, report says
Egyptian ministries have not made noticeable progress on proactive disclosure of information despite a recently launched anti-corruption state initiative , according to a report by an independent rights group. The Support for Information Technology Center (SITC) evaluated 24 ministries – including the foreign, finance, and justice ministries – in terms of levels of readily available information to the public. The SITC also evaluated the efficiency of the websites provided by various ministries. The SITC used four criteria to evaluate ministries performance: making the information available, complete, comprehensible and up to date. The ministries of finance and planning came on top in “proactive disclosure of information,” both scoring 42 out of 104 points, compared to 39 and 30 points respectively in 2014. The Foreign Ministry scored 24 points in terms of information availability, as opposed to 18 points year-on- year. The SITC gave the ministry’s official website 12 out of 22 points. The Justice Ministry scored eight in information availability assessment, with the same figure given to its online portal. The ministries of higher education and scientific research scored the worst among the ministries on information availability, both scoring five points. [Ahram Online, 12/9/2015]

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Nine policemen referred to court for torturing man to death
Luxor prosecutor referred Thursday four police officers and five low ranking policemen to the criminal court for their involvement in the case of torturing and killing a citizen inside Luxor police station last month. Luxor police station’s investigation chief Ibrahim Omara, three lieutenants and five lower-ranking agents are facing accusations of torturing Talaat Shabib, 47, to death after arresting him from a local coffee shop. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, an inmate in al-Waraq police station died, marking the fourth incident of death in police custody this week. The Waraq prosecution unit began investigating the inmate’s death and ordered the Forensic Medicine department to examine the body, although the deceased’s family requested the prosecution not to autopsy the body. The Ministry of Interior said there were no torture signs on his body and that he died due to “circulatory failure.” A source in the ministry told Daily News Egypt that the victim’s health deteriorated in the cell and he died on his way to the hospital. [DNE, AMAY, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 12/10/2015]

Four Irrigation Ministry officials to stand trial over wasting public money
Four Ministry of Irrigation officials have reportedly been referred to court on charges of squandering public funds. In October, the officials were arrested for allegedly accepting an EGP 100,000 ($12,450) bribe in exchange for licensing a club with a Nile River view. A ministry official told Youm7 that the officials, three administrators and an engineer, had agreed to an EGP 60,000 down payment, and were expecting to receive the rest after the club’s licensing. Following their arrest, Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazi announced the formation of a committee to address corruption in the ministry, per presidential orders. [Cairo Post, 12/9/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt lifts asset freeze on Mubarak-era interior minister Habib al-Adly | Ahram Online


Rising food prices push up Egypt’s inflation
Egypt’s urban consumer inflation jumped to 11.1 percent in November, its highest level since June, propelled by rising food prices. Egypt said in November it would control the prices of ten essential commodities and use its state grain buying agency to import a broader array of goods in an effort to curb inflation. However, November core inflation, which excludes volatile items such as fruits and vegetables, rose to 7.44 percent from 6.26 percent in October. Egypt’s annual inflation rate accelerated 11.8 percent compared to 10.3 percent in October. The higher inflation figures may influence the central bank’s decision on interest rates at a monetary policy committee meeting scheduled for next week, Capital Economics said. “There is growing risk that [the central bank] will be spooked and decide to hike rates,” the company said. [Reuters, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 12/10/2015]

Also of Interest

  • With foreign currency short, Egypt’s rate decision hard to call | Reuters
  • Sisi suggests expatriates donate US dollars to offset falling reserve says adviser | Egypt Independent
  • Global Financial Integrity: Egypt’s illicit flows from 2004 to 2013 near $40 billion | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt to issue new $1.1 billion one-year T-bill | Reuters
  • Egypt’s six month T-bill yields drop slightly, one-year nearly unchanged | Reuters
  • Egyptian pound steady at forex auction, weaker on black market | Reuters
  • Soldiers serving $1 meals sound Egyptian pound devaluation alarm | Bloomberg
  • EU grants Egypt EUR 30 million to expand access to education | DNE
  • EU grants Egypt EUR 32 million for wastewater expansion project | DNE


New wave of labor strikes across Suez Canal, Nile Delta, Assiut
A new wave of labor unrest has swept Egypt over the past two days as several thousand workers commenced industrial action. Demands include higher wages, workplace parity, the enforcement of judicial verdicts, the reinstatement of sacked employees, and the payment of overdue bonuses. Protests were staged by workers employed in seven companies subcontracted by the state-owned Suez Canal Authority (SCA), as well as the Assiut Cement Company and two privatized textile mills: the Nile Cotton Ginning Company and the Shebin al-Kom Textile Company. At the companies servicing the Suez Canal but not officially affiliated with the SCA, several thousand employees staged protests on Tuesday, mostly in the cities of Ismailia and Port Said. Workers from three of the seven companies reportedly continued protesting for a second day on Wednesday, announcing an open-ended protest. At Upper Egypt’s Assiut Cement Company (Cemex), the labor strike also entered its third day on Wednesday. At the Shebin al-Kom Textile Company, hundreds of workers also embarked on a protest march and rally on Tuesday. [Mada Masr, 10/10/2015]

Rights group says 125 forced disappearances in October, November
There have been 125 cases of forced disappearances cases across Egypt in October and November, according to a report issued by the Stop Forced Disappearances campaign. The report, issued on Wednesday, stated that 79 individuals have been located, while the whereabouts of 64 remain unknown. The forced disappearance cases included 11 children, nine seniors, 15 men and 34 youths, according to the report. Students accounted for the most disappearances, with 42 percent of the total number of cases. The campaign declared that 33 percent of the individuals who have already been located appeared one week after their disappearance, while 5 percent appeared during the second week, and 6 percent were located after one month. Most of the cases appeared in police stations and prosecution offices. [DNE, 12/9/2015]

Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated exchange companies, $2.5 million in funds confiscated
The government committee tasked with managing the funds of the Muslim Brotherhood announced Wednesday it seized 14 foreign exchange companies allegedly affiliated with the banned group. A total of EGP 20 million ($2.5 million) in funds were seized from the foreign exchange companies, the head of the committee Judge Ezzat Khamis said. The companies include EMCO, al-Nouran, Ebramko, al-Reda, al-Penso, al-Ferdaws, al-Fakahany, al-Mashriq al-Araby, al-Beheira, al-Sabah, al-Quds, and General. The committee also seized an electronics company, Delta Software, and the al-Sayyeda Aisha school, which will be managed by the Education Ministry. Meanwhile, 375 books were seized from mosques in Delta’s Kafr al-Sheikh over “inciting violence and extremism,” Under Secretary of the Endowment Ministry, Saad al-Fekki said Wednesday. Books authored by Egyptian Islamist scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is based in Qatar and listed on Interpol’s wanted list on several accusations, and Mohamed Salim al-Awa, an Islamist thinker and 2011 presidential candidate, were among those seized. [AMAY, Cairo Post, 12/9/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • Education Ministry in Qalyubiya requests information on bearded, niqab-wearing teachers | AMAY
  • Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate protests in renewed call for release of jailed journalists | Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY
  • Women’s rights activists criticize Justice Ministry’s foreign marriage amendments | Egypt Independent
  • Families demand warm clothes, better conditions for Aqrab Prison detainees | Mada Masr


Policeman killed in drive-by-shooting in Egypt’s Giza
Unknown gunmen riding  a motorcycle opened fire on a policeman tasked with guarding a post office in Giza’s Badrashin city, killing him and wounding two others, according to a statement released by the Interior Ministry. Spokesperson for the Ambulance Authority Ahmed Al-Ansary confirmed to Ahram Online that an attack took place in Badrashin. However, he could not confirm if there were other casualties. The identity of the assailants has not been uncovered, according to the Interior Ministry. In a similar incident late November, unknown gunmen shot dead four members of the Egyptian security forces on a road near the Giza pyramids, south of Cairo. [Ahram Online, AMAY, 12/10/2015]

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UK Ambassador expresses supports for Egypt
UK Ambassador John Casson expressed support for Egypt in a statement Wednesday, saying his country would “do everything in [their] power to defeat the terrorists who want to close down Egypt’s economy.” During a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the Russian plane crash in Sharm al-Sheikh, Casson said that that talks are ongoing between the Egyptian and British governments to restore UK flights to Sharm al-Sheikh as soon as possible. Following the crash, Britain took safety measures for the sake of its people, which was a normal procedure in such situations, Casson said. He  responded to a question about why Britain had not suspended its flights to France following recent terrorist attacks in Paris by saying that Britain condemns terrorism in any country, and their decision to halt flights was a safety measures and was not biased against Egypt. [AMAY, 12/10/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • Mubarak, Ben Ali earn spots on grand corruption final list | DNE, Mada Masr
  • Egypt, Greece and Cyprus to cooperate in natural gas exploration | DNE
  • Russian tourism official expects resumption of flights by February 2016 | AMAY
  • Recent gas discoveries to strengthen Egypt, Cyprus, Greece cooperation says minister | AMAY
  • Egypt resorts to alternative plans to address Ethiopian dam issue | DNE
  • Libya sentences 17 Egyptian fishermen to eight months for breaching waters | Cairo Post