An Egyptian court gave jail terms to forty-three Americans, Europeans, Egyptians and other Arabs on Tuesday in a case against democracy promotion groups that plunged US-Egyptian ties into their worst crisis in decades.


Confidential "national security" dialogue goes viral in Egypt
Politicians meeting with Egypt’s president on Monday proposed hostile acts against Ethiopia, including backing rebels and carrying out sabotage, to stop it from building a massive dam on the Nile River upstream. Some of the politicians appeared unaware the meeting with President Mohammed Morsi was being carried live on TV. Morsi did not directly react to the suggestions, but said in concluding remarks that Egypt respects Ethiopia and its people and will not engage in any aggressive acts against the East African nation. Presidential aide, Pakinam al-Sharqawi apologized for failing to inform attendees that the meeting was being aired live on television. Several political figures expressed anger at the mistake because they expressed views they thought would remain secret. [AP, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 6/4/2013]

Shura denies international pressure over draft NGO law
Dr. Abdel Azim Mahmoud, head of the Human Development committee in the Shura Council, denied that the office of the presidency is reviewing the draft NGO law in response to international pressure that began immediately after the legislation received its initial approval. Mahmoud said that the international pressure, both from concerned international institutions or human rights organizations at home, was aimed at the committee and not at the presidency. He stressed that the law would be a purely Egyptian one, and comes in accordance with the best interests of the country, stressing the government’s belief in the importance of the civil work. [EGYNews, 6/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Ministry of Information to apply austerity measures | DNE


Egypt sentences forty-three, including Americans, in NGO case
An Egyptian court gave jail terms to forty-three Americans, Europeans, Egyptians and other Arabs on Tuesday in a case against democracy promotion groups that plunged US-Egyptian ties into their worst crisis in decades. Twenty-seven defendants, all of whom were tried in absentia, received five-year jail sentences. Eleven received one-year suspended sentences, and five received two-year sentences. The convicted people include nineteen Americans, sixteen Egyptians, as well as Germans, Serbs, Norwegians, Palestinians and Jordanians. The court also ordered the closure of five foreign NGOs operating in Egypt and for their funds to be confiscated. These are the US-based Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ), and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). There was no immediate comment from the US government. The Arab Network for Human Rights Information condemned the ruling, while Sarwat Abdel-Shahid, a lawyer for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a US NGO which had 15 employees on trial, said the verdict discriminated against foreigners. [Reuters, Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Shorouk (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 6/4/2013]

Egyptian judges march to high court against draft law
Hundreds of Egyptian judges and activists rallied on Monday and marched to the high court for the independence of the judiciary and against the regime. Head of the Judges’ Club Ahmed al-Zend and Judge Tahany al-Gebaly and pro-revolution preacher Mazhar Shaheen led the march against the Shura Council’s persistence to continue discussing a judicial authority law that is unapproved by the majority of judges. Outside the court on Monday, hundreds of other demonstrators gathered to support protesting judges, raising banners expressing their solidarity and warning against attempts to ‘Brotherhoodize’ Egypt’s judiciary. The administrative court decided to hear the Judges Club case to stop discussion of the judicial authority law in the Shura Council on June 25. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, Ahram Online, Shorouk (Arabic), 6/4/2013]

Egyptian military met judges before ruling on soldiers’ right to vote
Representatives from the High Constitutional Court met with a senior military official on the eve of the court’s decision that soldiers have the right to vote, a court spokesman has said. Judge Maher Sami, the spokesman and deputy chairman of the High Constitutional Court, stated that Judge Maher al-Baheiry, the head of the court, met minister for parliamentary affairs Hatem Bagato and the aide for legal affairs to the minister of defense Major General Mamdouh Shahin upon their request last Monday. According to Sami, the attendees discussed how to implement the court ruling whilst ensuring that national security is unaffected, and how to avoid any problems resulting from different interpretations of constitutional texts in this matter. [Ahram Online, 6/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Activist Douma gets 6 months in prison for ‘insulting president’ | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya
Egypt suspends Emirati tycoon’s jail term after settling legal disputes | Ahram Online
Ex-housing minister al-Maghrabi remains behind bars despite release order | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya


Egypt Africa’s second most attractive country for FDI
Egypt is Africa’s second most attractive country in drawing foreign investments, according to a report issued by the advisory services company, Ernst & Young. The ranking was announced amid the country’s growing insecurity and economic crisis. According to the report, Egypt drew 10.5% of Africa’s foreign investment to Africa since 2003. “Even though word has it that investment shrank tremendously after a popular uprising in 2011, which resulted in the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak, Ernst & Young declared that fifty-two new projects were established in Egypt in the same year,” the report said. 60 new projects were registered in 2012, according to findings. [DNE, 6/3/2013]

Egypt’s budget deficit estimated to hit EGP 197.5bn by end of June
Egypt’s budget deficit is estimated to swell up to EGP 197.5bn exceeding previous forecasts, despite growing concerns prompting calls for austerity. “The budget deficit, which reached EGP 184.8bn in April, accounted for 10.6 percent of Egypt’s GDP in the first 10 months of the 2012/2013 fiscal year,’’ the Ministry of Finance said in its monthly report issued in May. This was not far off from the ministry’s previous predictions of EGP 185bn that was set for the whole fiscal year ending 30 June. Last year, the budget deficit reached EGP 134.996bn. [DNE, 6/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Banque Misr, National Bank of Egypt subscribe to $200m in international gov’t bonds | DNE
Egypt accepts bids for $38.8 mln at forex auction | Reuters, Aswat Masriya
Abdel Ghafar: US to lend expertise to the Suez Canal Corridor Project | DNE
Government devises blackout warning system | DNE


More Tamarod members detained
Four Tamarod members were detained on Sunday in al-Sayeda Aisha and released the next day by Homeland Security. “Tamarod members were performing a peaceful political activity when they were kidnapped and detained by Homeland Security, not knowing why they were taken and why they were released,” said Tamarod spokesperson Mai Wahba. Wahba added that they will confer with their lawyers to take all necessary legal steps to protect Tamarod members from arrest or detainment by Homeland Security and the Muslim Brotherhood. [DNE, 6/3/2013]


NSF Youth tries to stir up support for June protests
The National Salvation Front (NSF) Youth issued a statement in their press conference on Monday encouraging all Egyptians to participate in the protests on June 30. According to the statement, the NSF Youth is calling on people to rally against the Muslim Brotherhood-run government, which has been attempting to “change the Egyptian identity and turn all institutions into Brotherhood-run ones.” Mohamed Yasser, a member of NSF Youth and al-Tagamo Party, said that they have been organizing protests around the country to spread information about the anti-president rallies set to take place on 30 June. [DNE, 6/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Presidential aide: Women protection against violence law still underway | Aswat Masryia
Rights groups condemn jail sentence for Coptic lawyer | DNE


UK ‘entirely opposed’ to death sentence imposed on Briton by Egypt
The UK is "entirely opposed" to the death sentences handed down by Egypt on five foreign nationals – including one Briton – convicted of drug trafficking and will work to prevent its implementation, the UK embassy in Cairo told Ahram Online on Monday. "The British government is extremely concerned at the death sentence passed down on a British national by an Egyptian court on 3 June," a senior press officer at the UK embassy in Cairo said via email. "Our consular team in Cairo are in contact with the British national involved and we will do our utmost to prevent this execution." [Ahram Online, 6/3/2013]

Photo: Al Jazeera Screenshot