Top News: Investigative Journalist Hossam Bahgat Released From Military Prosecution Custody

Egyptian investigative journalist and human rights activist Hossam Bahgat was released from the custody of military prosecution on Tuesday, two days after his detention on charges of “publishing false news aimed at harming national security.” Naser Amin, one of the lawyers who attended the questioning of Bahgat, told Ahram Online that his client was “released pending investigation, yet without bail.” Mada Masr reported that Bahgat was released after signing a document stating, “I, Hossam Bahgat, journalist at Mada Masr, declare that I will abide by legal and security procedures when publishing material pertaining to the Armed Forces … I was also not subjected to any moral or physical harm.” Bahgat’s detention had ignited condemnation online and among rights activists and local and international rights watchdogs calling for his immediate release. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday Bahgat’s detention is “the latest in a series of detentions of human rights defenders and others that are profoundly worrying,” while calling for safeguarding freedom of speech and association in Egypt. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has condemned those remarks, claiming they merely address individual cases. “[The comments] jumped to conclusions and assumptions relating to the exercise of freedom of expression, which is guaranteed for all Egyptians by the constitution,” a statement by the ministry spokesman read. The Journalists’ Syndicate has voiced concern over what it views is a surge in the arrest of journalists over multiple charges, pointing out that the number of journalists currently held by authorities stands at more than thirty-two. In a statement on Monday, the syndicate’s Freedoms Committee described the current situation as an “escalation of the attack against press and media freedom represented in the return of journalists’ arrests and the suspension of those with a different opinion.” [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AP, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, The Guardian, Cairo Post, AMAY, 11/10/2015]


Prime Minister will form new emergency and crisis committee
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail ordered the formation of an emergency and crisis committee to address any emergency in all governorates where citizens’ safety is threatened due to floods, according to a statement released by Ismail’s office. The committee will propose urgent solutions to provide the necessary requirements, subsidies, and compensation to victims of any crisis. It will also assist coordination between the concerned ministries and supply them with necessary aid. Cabinet secretary general Amr Abdel Menem will head of the new committee, which will include representatives from the Ministries of Defence, Interior, Social Solidarity, Health, Transportation, Electricity, Water Resources, Supply, and Housing. Head of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority Ahmed Abdel-Aal said rainfall is expected to continue until the end of this week in the Beheira governorate where Governor Mohamed Soltan canceled school on Monday for sixty-eight schools due to flooding. Egypt’s agriculture ministry has formed a committee to assess the damage and provide landlords with EGP 2,000 per damaged acre in compensation. [DNE, Ahram Online, SIS, 11/9/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Interior Minister vows to protect election process | SIS


Challenge against Salah Diab’s fund seizure adjourned to Wednesday
The Cairo Criminal Court, headed by judge Hamed Hasanain, postponed the challenge filed against the seizure of funds from businessman and Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper founder Salah Diab to Wednesday. Diab was arrested along with his son, Tawfik, from their home in Giza. Egyptian businessmen, as well as the media, have largely condemned Diab’s arrest, which took place on Sunday and over charges of unlicensed arms possession. The Cairo Post reported that Diab’s detention was ordered renewed for fifteen days pending investigation. [AMAY, Cairo Post, 11/10/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Esraa al-Taweel’s alleged confessions released by Homeland Security | Aswat Masriya
  • Esraa Taweel’s defense team dismisses her alleged confession | Mada Masr
  • Nasserite Ashour reelected as Lawyers Syndicate chairman for fourth time | Ahram Online
  • Internet Revolution Facebook page founder arrested, interrogated | AMAY


Egypt stocks drop after Russia suspends flights, inflation increases
Egypt’s benchmark stock index plunged 4.4 percent on Tuesday after steadily declining since Russia suspended flights to Egypt following the October 31 Russian plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula. The drop is caused by negative international and external factors, according to Global Head of Research at Mubasher Financial Services Amr Elalfy. “Internally, you have the Russian plane, the impacted tourism, and the countries that have suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh,” said Elalfy. The arrest of prominent Egyptian businessmen Salah Diab and his son Tawfik Diab on charges of possessing unlicensed weapons days after a corruption probe was launched against them also spooked investors, according to Chairman of Egyptian brokerage firm Acumen Securities Osama Mourad. Meanwhile, Egypt’s annual inflation rate accelerated to 10.3 percent in October compared to 9.2 percent in September, official statistics agency CAPMAS announced on Tuesday. Urban annual inflation rate reached 9.7 percent and rural inflation rate hit 10.9 percent. [AP, Aswat Masriya, DNE, Ahram Online, 11/10/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Central Bank to provide $4 billion in two weeks for pending import orders | Cairo Post
  • Egypt’s tourism revenue drops by 15 percent in third quarter of 2015 | Cairo Post
  • 300,000 workers in tourism industry at risk in Red Sea | AMAY
  • Egyptian pound steady at dollar sale, lower at parallel market | Reuters
  • Two more Egyptian banks raise interest rates on savings certificates | Reuters
  • Sisi reviews features of Egypt’s economic development | SIS
  • Economic ministerial group discusses increasing state resources | SIS
  • Egypt’s GASC receives offers in wheat tender | Reuters
  • Egypt signs deal with French consortiums to complete Cairo’s third metro line | Ahram Online
  • EasyJet says too early to know cost of UK’s Egypt flight suspension | Reuters
  • To boost foreign reserves, campaign tells expats to transfer money into Egyptian banks | Mada Masr


Egypt’s controversial new civil service law has come into effect
Egypt’s new civil service law came into effect on Monday amid minor protests from government employees. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail signed a decree on Sunday containing the executive regulations required to enforce the new law, according to state news agency MENA. The law, which was ratified in March by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, aims to reform Egypt’s administrative apparatus in order to lessen the wage burden on state finances and encourage private investment. Dozens of Tax Authority workers protested against the law in front of the Journalists Syndicate building in downtown Cairo, Youm7 reported on Monday. Employees have voiced concerns that the new wage structure and bonus ceilings may not keep pace with inflation in the future. [Ahram Online, 11/9/2015]

AFTE denounces constriction of academic freedom
A report by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) criticized several of violations of academic freedom in October, including Alexandria University’s decision to cancel a lecture by former Presidential Advisor Essam Heggy. AFTE said the cancellation of the lecture “sparks major fears regarding the freedom of academic discussion [in Egypt]. Further, the justification given by the university for the cancellation amounts to a declaration of the imposition of bureaucratic limitations on lectures.” The report also condemned the Ministry of Finance’s intrusion into faculty members’ salaries and called for financial independence for universities from government decisions. “The Ministry of Finance’s intrusion in faculty’s salaries breaches the law on regulation of universities,” AFTE said. AFTE also criticized the lack of transparency surrounding the draft of the proposed law on higher education. “The tremendous lack of transparency hampers the academic circle’s free expression and participation on subjects that they might want to contribute to.” [DNE, 11/9/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Nursing students protest over governmental positions DNE
  • Foreign Ministry announces phone, fax numbers for expats’ complaints | SIS
  • Bassem Youssef says ‘get stuffed’ to those who claim the Arab spring failed | The Guardian


Teams of inspectors checking security measures at Cairo International Airport
Egyptian officials say European, Russian, and Middle Eastern teams are inspecting security measures at Cairo’s international airport relating to passenger and cargo aircraft traveling to their countries.
Head of Cairo’s international airport Major General Ahmed Genina said officials from Russia, Holland, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are examining the scanning of passengers, cargo and baggage as they enter the airport and make their way to aircraft. Security guards and caterers are also being inspected. The goal of the inspection is to determine how prepared the airport is to handle emergency incidents. Several countries and airlines have suspended new flights to Egypt over security concerns stemming from the possibility that terrorism brought down the Russian airliner that crashed in the Sinai, killing all on board. [AP, AMAY, Cairo Post, 11/10/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Interior Ministry review security plans for parliamentary elections | DNE


In Egypt, angry talk of Western conspiracy over plane crash
Egyptian media have reacted with fury as Britain and the United States are increasingly pointing to a bomb as the cause of the October 31 Russian plane crash in Sinai. Many Egyptian outlets are saying that Egypt is facing a Western conspiracy that seeks to scare off tourists and destroy the country’s economy. The warnings of a plot have been widely promoted by opinion makers in print, online, and on television, sometimes hinting and sometimes saying flat-out that the West has restricted flights to Egypt not purely out of safety concerns for its citizens but because it wants to undermine the country. “The people defy the conspiracy—Egypt will not cave in to pressures,” state-owned Al-Gomhuria newspaper proclaimed in a front-page headline this week. A headline by the independent al-Watan read, “Egypt stands up to the West’s terrorism.” “Denial on behalf of the state that there is a crisis and then trying to point to some kind of third party is very normal,” Analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Hebatalla Taha said. Meanwhile, neither Russia nor Egypt has accepted an offer from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to provide “forensic assistance” and other support in the investigation of the crash, FBI Spokesman Joshua Campbell said Monday. Also on Monday, Airbus Chief Operating Officer for Customers John Leahy said the company is confident in the safety of its A321 aircraft, including the plane that crashed in Egypt. [AP, 11/10/2015]

Egyptian Defense Minister meets US Secretary of Navy
Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi met with US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and his accompanying delegation in Cairo Monday, according to a statement from the official military spokesman. After the meeting, Mabus highlighted the value that the United States places on the strong partnership with Egypt. He said the United States plans to seek more cooperation with Egypt in the future. “We are working closely with the Egyptian military to support its fight against terrorism, to make the region safe and stable, and to ensure the free flow of commerce,” Mabus said. Egypt and the United States are holding joint participation in exercises, such as Bright Star, to strengthen the relationship and build interoperability between both forces. Sobhi reviewed with Mabus the delivery of two Fast Missile Craft warships to the Egyptian Navy in June. The US Embassy in Cairo had previously stated that the delivery of the vessels demonstrates the ongoing US commitment to Egypt and the two countries’ shared security interests. [DNE, Cairo Post, 11/10/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Russia may deliver onboard defense system to Algeria, Egypt | Ahram Online
  • Russia could sell Egypt avionics, Ka-52 helicopters for Mistral ships | AMAY
  • Egypt’s Sisi heads to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for Arab-South American summit | Ahram Online
  • Egyptians protest in Jordan | DNE
  • Egypt antiquities officials scoff at Carson pyramid claims | AP, The Guardian
  • Palestinian leader visits Coptic pope in Cairo | Ahram Online, SIS
  • Talks end between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan in Cairo | DNE
  • Cairo worried rate of Renaissance Dam construction too quick | Ahram Online
  • Plans underway to build new dams on different rivers, says Ethiopian Minister | AMAY
  • Al-Azhar urges international action to save al-Aqsa | AMAY
  • Defense Minister meets peacekeeping mission to Central African Republic | SIS
  • Petroleum Minister heads for Abu Dhabi to partake in ADIPEC 2015 Conference | SIS