Top News: Egypt’s State Security Prosecution to Probe Top Prosecutor’s Assassination

Egypt’s General Prosecution on Monday referred the case of late Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat’s assassination to the country’s High State Security Prosecution to continue its investigation. In a statement issued by Assistant Prosecutor General Zakaria Osman on Monday, it was stated that the East Cairo Prosecution had completed an initial investigation into the car bomb attack that targeted Barakat’s motorcade a week ago in Cairo’s Heliopolis district, and led to his death. Assistant Prosecutor General Zakaria Abdel Aziz Othman issued the order to refer the case to the higher State Security Prosecutors, the prosecution’s statement said. Typically, State Security prosecutors look into cases that affect national security. [Ahram OnlineAswat Masriya, 7/7/2015]

Prime Minister addresses North Sinai attacks, anti-terror bill
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab visited injured soldiers and civilians in North Sinai and local facilities Monday after the deadly July 1 attacks, along with the North Sinai governor and the Minister of Health.  Mahlab underlined the important role played by Sinai residents in cooperation with the army and police forces to confront terrorism and defend the homeland. “Sinai locals are Egypt’s first line of defense; any soldier who serves in Sinai should feel he is serving his family,” Mahlab said during his visit to the soldiers. He also checked on three other service sites in Arish in North Sinai: Arish General Hospital, consuming markets and the main sewage treatment station, promising significant development in the projects-deprived governorate. Meanwhile in an interview on satellite channel, Sada El-Balad, Mahlab discussed the government-approved amendment to the anti-terrorism law, saying it does not jeopardize press freedoms. “The terrorism law has nothing to do at all with press freedom, it does not seek to scrutinize the media,” Mahlab said.“The exceptional circumstances Egypt is going through cannot withstand false information in a time when the state needs national unity, a matter that largely affects our morale,” the Prime Minister added, stressing that the current period is the best timing to issue the law given Egypt’s “fierce war on terrorism.” [SIS , Cairo Post, Egypt Independent, 7/7/2015]

Coptic activists call for Christian political party
Coptic activists called on social networking websites to establish a political party with a Christian background named Om al-Nour, a reference to the Virgin Mary, in response to the Administrative Court’s ruling not to dissolve the Salafi-led Nour Party. Coptic activist Wael Kamal said Monday: “We were surprised with the ruling of the Administrative Court. We don’t object to the rulings of the Egyptian judiciary but the existence of Nour Party violates the Egyptian Constitution, which bans parties on religious basis. So we have the right to garner authorizations to establish a religious party.” Former coordinator of Maspero Union Youth Andrawas Oweida said he rejects the idea adding Nour Party will be dissolved sooner or later. He attributed the Administrative Court’s ruling to the state’s unwillingness to confront Salafis. Oweida argued that establishing a Christian party would lead to division of Egypt as happened in Lebanon. [Egypt Independent, 7/7/2015]  

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Court reveals details behind Morsi’s death sentence verdict
The Cairo Criminal Court submitted the grounds on which former president Mohamed Morsi and five others were handed death sentences in the Wadi Natroun prison break trial. They were given the sentences on charges of participating in storming Egyptian prisons, attacking police facilities, and killing security personnel. The revealed details behind the verdict saw the court justifying the conviction of the 129 defendants in the case, in which they were accused of being responsible for breaking prisons and security facilities. The court said its judges were given proof that the planning for the crimes committed was on the instructions and support of foreign “terrorist organizations.” The court added,“Although the Brotherhood was an organized and fully established organization, at the time it didn’t have the gear to individually execute the crimes in light of the security grip on it which states positively that foreign entities participated in the plan to execute it.” [DNE, 7/7/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt among least countries in the world that implement death penalty | Egypt Independent

Egypt’s domestic debt surpasses two trillion pounds, foreign reserves rise
Egypt’s domestic debt reached 2.016 trillion pounds ($261 billion) in the third quarter of the current fiscal year, the central bank said on Monday, reflecting the government’s reliance on domestic borrowing to finance its deficit. “The government is highly dependent on local sources, mostly banks, in the form of treasury bills and bonds, to finance its deficit,” said Hany Farahat, senior economist at CI Capital. Total domestic borrowing is up 18 percent year-on-year. A statement by the central bank also said external debt dropped during the third quarter to $39.9 billion, down from $45.3 billion in the same period last year. On Tuesday, the central bank said Egypt’s foreign currency reserves rose to $20.08 billion at the end of June from $19.560 billion the previous month. [Reuters, 7/6/2015]

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  • Egypt’s pound steady at official auction after earlier depreciation | Reuters, Aswat Masriya  
  • CBE: Egypt paid US $670 million owed to Paris Club | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt temporarily halts cotton import to “protect local produce” – ministry spokesman | Aswat Masriya
  • Emaar Misr and Greek crisis drag Egypt’s stock market to lowest point in over a year | Aswat Masriya
  • Cabinet gears up for ’Golden Triangle’ project | SIS

Detained Egyptian journalist Shawkan’s health deteriorating says lawyer
The health of detained Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou-Zeid, aka Shawkan, is “deteriorating day-after-day,” his lawyer has said. In comments published on the Freedom for Shawkan Facebook page, Kareem Abdel-Radi stressed he would ask for better conditions and health care for his client at Tora prison. Shawkan, 27, has been diagnosed with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), according to his supporters’ Facebook page. Abdel-Radi also said that he had recently made new legal attempts to clear Shawkan’s name by providing fresh evidence to the court which shows that his client was simply doing his job as a photojournalist and not taking part in the Rabaa sit-in. In addition to sixteen journalists currently detained, based on a census conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in early June, and three more detained this past week, a twentieth journalist was arrested while taking photographs outside a Cairo mosque. He is being held on suspicion of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said, “The crackdown on the press is deepening at a time when the public needs independent reporting on the security threats that Egypt is facing,” and called on authorities to release the detained journalists. [Ahram Online, 7/7/2015]

Egypt’s Salafist Nour Party launches counter-terrorism awareness campaign
The head of Egypt’s ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party said on Monday that his party had launched its “Egypt is stronger than terrorism” campaign in support of the Egyptian state. “We have launched our campaign, through our legitimate political party, as a responsibility towards our country,” said Nour Party secretary-general Galal Morra. He added that the campaign follows on in the spirit of the 2011 popular uprising that deposed long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and the 30 June 2013 mass demonstrations in support of the military that led to the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July of the same year. Those taking part in the campaign would speak to Egyptians around the country about what the party sees as the “dangers trying to upset the state’s stability, spread unrest and destabilize the army.” [Ahram Online, 7/6/2015]

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  • ‘Human rights a hindrance for stability’: AOHR-UK tackles Egyptian policies | DNE
  • Dar Al-Ifta condemns Brotherhood leader’s calls to ‘escape military draft’ | DNE
  • Bureaucratic, legal obstacles curb freedom of scientific research: AFTE | DNE
  • Nubians to protest Zamalek SC chief’s derogatory remarks | Egypt Independent
  • Sunken ships at Alexandria port to be lifted in a year | Egypt Independent
  • 3,000 acres in Alexandria irrigated with sewage | Egypt Independent
  • Police seize thirty-five artifacts in Alexandria house | Egypt Independent

Hack of Italian surveillance firm uncovers contract with Egypt
An unknown team of hackers released a bundle of files on Sunday revealing that the Defense Ministry has an active contract with a notorious Italian surveillance company. The Milan-based Hacking Team sells intrusion and surveillance tools to governments and law enforcement agencies worldwide. The 400GB Torrent file released by the unidentified assailants included internal documents, source codes, email communications and a list of the firm’s clients and renewal dates, which confirmed long-standing suspicions that the company was working with the Egyptian government. The leaked documents include a 2012 invoice for 58,000 euros to the Egypt-based company GNSE Group. According to its website, GNSE was founded in 2001 as part of the privately owned Mansour Group to “enable e-businesses.” Governments are typically wary of a ministry’s name appearing on any bank records in case a scandal should erupt, and as a result, use a middleman to sign contracts, according to digital rights and security researcher Ramy Raoof. [Mada Masr, DNE, 7/6/2015]

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Egypt signs energy import deals with Russia’s Rosneft
Egypt and Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft have signed two initial deals for the supply of petroleum products and liquefied natural gas to Cairo, the two sides said on Tuesday. The oil ministry said in a statement the deals include the supply of benzine and bitumen, as well as twenty-four LNG cargoes for state gas company EGAS over two years starting from the fourth quarter of 2015. The deals “will allow Rosneft to access the high growth potential Egyptian gas market and deepen broader cooperation between the two companies,” Rosneft said in a statement on its website. “In addition, the cooperation with EGAS will allow Rosneft to strengthen its position in the global LNG trading market.” Under the terms of the agreements, Rosneft also plans to supply Egypt with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), a step Rosneft said it hoped would lead to more deals to supply LPG to North Africa. [Reuters, 7/7/2015]

Egyptian kidnapped by militants in Libya
Unknown militants kidnapped an Egyptian national on Monday in the city of Sabha, according to a security source in the Libyan city. The kidnapped national resided in Libya’s southwestern city of Sabha. His wife was asked to pay 70,000 Libyan dinars ($51,253.9) to secure his release, a security source told state news agency MENA. Egyptian authorities have warned against migration to Libya since the execution of twenty-one Egyptians in February by the Islamic State. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 7/7/2015]  

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  • Egypt briefs European ambassadors on terror threats | SIS
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  • Egypt provides training to Mauritanian journalists | SIS
  • Egypt, Germany sign deal to launch satellite by 2017 | Cairo Post