Top News; Egypt Releases Al Jazeera Journalist; 183 Pro-Morsi Defendants Sentenced to Death

Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste was released from a Cairo jail on Sunday and was deported from Egypt after 400 days in prison. The Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi released Greste under a decree issued in November authorizing him to approve the deportation of foreign prisoners.


In a first, Egyptian president speaks about killed protester
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has spoken publicly for the first time about the recent shooting death of a female protester, Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, calling her a “martyr” and offering condolences to her family and all Egyptians “pained” by her death. He also called on the interior minister to expedite the arrest of her killer. In a separate statement, Sisi said that a series of militant attacks that killed at least thirty-two people in Sinai on Thursday are “the price Egyptians are paying” for ousting the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013. He added that Egypt must prepare for a long fight to defeat Islamic extremists Saturday following a wave of attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. In a televised speech, he said that unnamed foreign countries are interfering with Egypt’s domestic affairs. [AP, Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 1/31/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Sisi pledges billions to develop Sinai after recent attacks | Aswat Masriya
  • Candidates start medical check-up before parliamentary application | DNE
  • ‘Parliamentary elections will go ahead despite terrorist attacks’: Sisi | Ahram Online
  • 141 committees to oversee elections abroad | Aswat Masriya
  • Egyptian army should return to barracks to end bloodshed in Sinai: Brotherhood | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Muslim Brotherhood condemns violence in English, in Arabic urges jihad | Mada Masr
  • Sisi to meet political figures over Sinai developments | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s Sisi tells army, police to be ‘mindful of human rights | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Pope Tawadros lauds Sisi’s party meeting, Strong Egypt says just ‘for pictures |’ Egypt Independent
  • Parliamentary elections to be monitored by EU | DNE


183 Pro-Morsi defendants receive final death sentence in initial Kerdasa murders
A Giza criminal court has issued a final death sentence penalty against 183 defendants on charges of killing eleven police officers during an attack on the Kerdasa, Giza police station in August 2013. On December 2, 2014, the court had referred the case of 188 defendants to Egypt’s grand mufti to ratify the death sentences. The mufti’s ratification is however not binding to the court. Out of the total of 183 defendants, thirty-four were tried in absentia. Of the remaining five defendants, one was sentenced to ten years in prison, two were acquitted, and two passed away. In a separate case, former Islamist Member of Parliament Islamist Mamdouh Ismail was sentenced to life in prison in absentia Monday on charges of involvement in violent events in Rod al-Farag following the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins in 2013. [Ahram Online, AP, DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Mada Masr, 2/2/2015]

Egypt frees Al Jazeera journalist Greste, two others still held
Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste was released from a Cairo jail on Sunday and was deported from Egypt after 400 days in prison. The Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi released Greste under a decree issued in November authorizing him to approve the deportation of foreign prisoners. Greste is returning to Australia via Cyprus. “He was immensely relieved and he was desperate to come home to Australia and reunite with his family,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said. A security official said Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy was also expected to be released from Cairo’s Tora prison within days. According to a source at Egypt’s foreign ministry, his deportation procedures will be finalized after he renounces his Egyptian nationality. Amnesty International has called for Fahmy’s release, along with the third imprisoned Al Jazeera journalist, Baher Mohamed. [DNE, AP, BBC, Reuters, Mada Masr, 2/2/2015]

Prosecution detains Socialist Alliance leader on “suspicion of killing Sabbagh”
A leading Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) member was detained pending investigation Saturday on “suspicion” of killing Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, another leading party member who was shot during a peaceful march in Cairo a week ago. Zohdi al-Shamy, the vice president of the party, was considered a witness until the prosecution “suspected” he was involved in the killing Sabbagh after questioning him. He was released on Sunday evening. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying, “Photographs, videos, and witness statements” indicate that the police were responsible for shooting Sabbagh. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/2/2015]

Egypt prosecutor detains officer who killed injured terror suspect
Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat ordered on Sunday the detention of a low ranking police officer accused of fatally shooting a hospitalized terror suspect. The officer will be held for four days pending investigation. The ministry of interior had said that the officer who was on guard duty shot the injured man after he was “provoked.” The suspect was in custody and being treated in hospital for wounds suffered while he was allegedly planting explosives. Another detainee died in custody on Saturday at the Rod al-Farag police station. Eyewitnesses allege he was beaten to death. Following his death, clashes erupted Sunday evening between security and residents with security forces responding with tear gas. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, 2/2/2015]

Also of Interest


Egypt’s tourism revenues up 27 percent in 2014
According to Egypt’s tourism minister, the country’s tourism revenues in 2014 rose to $7.5 billion from $5.9 billion the previous year, marking a 27 percent increase in revenues from one of the country’s major sectors. The country received 9.9 million tourists in 2014, up from 9.5 million in 2013. Tourist numbers picked up dramatically last summer after several European countries lifted travel warnings against Egypt’s popular Red Sea resorts in the Sinai peninsula. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 2/1/2015]

Also of Interest
Egypt pound continues fall versus dollar, drops to new low | AP, Reuters
Egypt earmarks 10 billion Egyptian pounds for development, counter-terrorism in Sinai, says Sisi | Ahram Online
Noble Energy team in Egypt for talks on importing Israeli gas | Reuters


Egypt seeks end to pro-Brotherhood TV, groups abroad
Egypt’s foreign ministry is seeking to shut down satellite channels it says are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and urged countries not to deal with Brotherhood-linked groups, the ministry said in statements issued on Sunday. The ministry is conducting extensive talks with France where it says the Brotherhood-linked television channels are being aired from, and is seeking “firm action” against them. Egypt says that the channels, which it did not name in the statement, are aired on France’s Eutelsat and accused them of terrorism, inciting murder and calling for the destruction of legitimate state institutions. Egypt mentioned “precedents wherein Eutelsat has closed down similar channels due to inciting hate speech.” [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 2/1/2015]

Also of Interest


Sisi creates unified military command to combat terrorism in Egypt’s Sinai
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree on Saturday to create a unified military command for the east of the Suez Canal to combat terrorism, two days after a series of militant attacks killed at least thirty-two people in Sinai. The new unified command structure will be led by General Osama Roshdy Askar. lt will guide counterterrorism activities of the Second and Third army. The decision comes as the president held a meeting with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Askar was promoted to lieutenant-general on Saturday as he assumes his new responsibilities. Defense Minister Sedky Sobhi appointed General Mohamed Abdullah as the new commander of the Third Army, replacing Askar. The Egyptian army said on Friday that militant attacks won’t deter the armed forces from their “holy duty of uprooting terrorism.” Sisi blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the Sinai insurgent attack, implicitly tying the group to the Islamic State-affiliated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, AP, 2/1/2015]

Attacks continue in Egypt’s governorates
Islamist militants attacked late on Saturday army troops at three checkpoints in Egypt’s volatile Sinai Peninsula, wounding at least six soldiers, a military source said. Suspected Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) gunmen opened fire and threw rocket-propelled grenades at the army forces in the eastern city of Rafah, leading to a gunfight between soldiers and assailants. The army said it killed three militants. A Coptic employee of the traffic management authority was also shot dead by unknown assailants late Friday in Egypt’s al-Arish city in North Sinai for his cooperation with security. Unidentified gunmen also shot at an army conscript in al-Arish on Monday, causing his injury, security sources said. Meanwhile, two separate improvised explosive devices in Alexandria injured two civilians and two policemen, while police dispersed a number of small protests elsewhere on Friday. Bombs also went off in a residential area in Qaliubiya Saturday morning, Suez and Port Said on Friday. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 2/2/2015]

Also of Interest
Monib police station torched – Giza security official | Aswat Masriya


Foreign ministry criticizes US for hosting Brotherhood leaders
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said he finds US State Department justifications for hosting Muslim Brotherhood members hard to comprehend, state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Saturday. In a US State Department press briefing, held on Thursday, spokesperson Jen Psaki said that Egyptian former parliamentarians, including members of the dissolved Freedom and Justice Party, on a visit to the United States, met with US State Department representatives. Shoukry said told media at the African summit in Ethiopia that other countries should respect Egyptian law, which decreed the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. The foreign ministry in a statement on Sunday accused the Brotherhood-affiliated Egyptian Revolutionary Council and the Revolution’s Parliament of issuing false statements about the reality of the situation in Egypt. It also indicates that these entities are inciting violence and terrorism, as well as circulating lies abroad. [Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 2/1/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Mahlab travels to Kuwait with delegation of ministers | DNE
  • New West Bank settlements destroy Egypt’s efforts in peace talks: Foreign ministry | DNE
  • Russian delegation arrives in Egypt | Egypt Independent
  • Libyan minister cites strong military cooperation with Egypt | Egypt Independent
  • Pan-Arab news channel off air hours after launch | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt urges Saudis to save workers as employer goes bankrupt | Egypt Independent
  • Source close to Hamas says no longer accepts Egypt as Israel mediator | Reuters
  • EU condemns Sinai militant attacks | Aswat Masriya