Top News: Police Storm Rights Organization, Arrest Employees

Security forces stormed the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) late Wednesday night, arresting several people, and confiscating laptops and other materials from the center.


Mansour to launch community dialogue
President Adly Mansour will launch on Thursday the first session of community dialogue since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. The president will meet representatives of the national powers and different community sectors to discuss the country’s current roadmap. According to State Information Service, the president will launch the sessions with a meeting with youth representatives from various political, professional and party currents. [SIS, Ahram Gate (Arabic), 12/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
Nour party issues booklet explaining reasons for accepting constitutional amendments | Shorouk (Arabic) Government to hand out free copies of draft constitution | DNE


Mubarak sons and Shafiq acquitted on corruption charges
An Egyptian court on Thursday acquitted former leader Hosni Mubarak’s two sons and his last prime minister of corruption charges. The Cairo criminal court found Gamal and Alaa Mubarak and Ahmed Shafiq innocent of corruption in a case that arose from the 1995 sale of a plot of land to Mubarak’s sons by an association led at the time by the former prime minister. Prosecutors claim the land was sold to the two at a price lower than its market value and were given a larger plot than what was stated in the contract. Alaa and Gamal will stay in custody as the court reviews another corruption case in which both are involved. A Cairo criminal court also sent Thursday to prosecution another corruption case involving Shafiq, after refusing to look into the case because of a procedural error. It is now up to the prosecutor to decide whether to file new charges against Shafiq. Along with ten officials from the Housing Cooperative Association for Military Pilots, former presidential candidate Shafiq is accused of appropriating a plot of land worth EGP 30 million (around $4.3 million) owned by the association. The former Air Force commander is also facing charges of money laundering worth EGP 5 million (around $724,742). A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Shafiq’s name has been removed from the airport watch list, possibly clearing the way for him to return from self-imposed exile. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, AP, EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 12/19/2013]

Brotherhood dissolution case adjourned as supreme guide faces fresh charges
The State Commissioners Authority (SCA) decided Thursday to adjourn the case regarding dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood organization to January 16, state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported. The lawsuit requested that the president, prime minister, ministers of finance and social solidarity dissolve the Islamist organization and confiscate its funds. The lawyers filing the case said that the Brotherhood has been practicing social and political work since the 1930s, was legally disbanded 60 years ago, and has been illegally operating since then. Meanwhile, prosecutors have filed a new incitement charge against Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie. Badie was charged on Wednesday with inciting the storming of a police station in Cairo’s Sixth of October City following the deadly dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo on August 14. The Muslim Brotherhood also denounced Egyptian authorities on Thursday for charging former President Mohamed Morsi and other Islamists with terrorism and conspiring with foreign groups. The Brotherhood also reiterated calls for all nations to put pressure on Egypt to free Morsi a day after the public prosecutor ordered him and 35 other top Brotherhood leaders to stand trial on charges that could result in the death penalty. “Despite calls by the European Union and the African Union as well as many other countries for the release of President Morsi and his co-defendants, the military [has] chosen to further violate human rights by continuing to illegally hold these men as political prisoners,” said the group in a press statement issued from its London office. [DNE, Reuters, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 12/19/2013]

Revolutionary Socialists call for ‘no’ vote on constitution; FJP officially announces boycott
The Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists have called for a ‘no’ vote on a draft constitution set to be put to a referendum early next year. In a statement on Wednesday, the movement said the constitution represents to a “ruling gang” and denounced the 50-member assembly that wrote it. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party officially announced on Wednesday that it would boycott the referendum. “The FJP’s boycott of the fake vote will be accompanied with continued escalation of peaceful revolutionary actions,” read the party’s statement. The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a coalition backed by groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, also announced it would protest on Friday and that it too would boycott the referendum. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 12/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Port Said trial postponed to February | DNE
Court resumes Abu Ismail’s trial on forging mother’s nationality | Egypt Independent


Planning Minister: IMF loan not on current government’s agenda
Planning Minister Ashraf al-Araby stressed that getting a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in not on the agenda of the incumbent government. “The aid Egypt got from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE makes us in no need of borrowing from the IMF,” Araby said in an interview with Al-Arabiya channel late on Wednesday.  The Gulf investments in Egypt are estimated at $50 billion dollars while European investments are estimated at $45 billion dollars, he added. “We need to lure foreign investments of $50 billion to be able to promote our economy,” Araby said. [SIS, 12/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt current account hits surplus in first quarter | DNE, Aswat Masriya (Arabic)
Business organizations say EGP 30 billion not enough to stimulate economy | Egypt Independent
European Bank funds projects in Egypt at $50 million | Shorouk (Arabic), Ahram Gate (Arabic)  
Egypt stocks beat record highs at week’s end | Ahram Online
Tourism rates up in November: Hesham Zaazou | Egypt Independent
Egypt index climbed, Gulf shares also rose | DNE
Egyptian pound down at Forex sale for second time in two days | DNE


Police storm rights organization, arrest employees
Security forces stormed the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) late Wednesday night, arresting several people, and confiscating laptops and other materials from the center. Researchers in the center and human rights activists reported that five researchers were arrested, including leading April 6 Youth Movement member and volunteer researcher Mohamed Adel, as well as photographer Mustafa Eissa. “All the five detainees from the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights have been released now, except Mohamed Adel, volunteer researcher in the center,” said a tweet on the ECESR’s Twitter account early Thursday. Egypt’s prosecutor general had already issued an arrest warrant two weeks ago for Adel, accusing him of organizing an unauthorized protest at Abdeen along with activists Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma, who are currently detained pending investigations. There has been no official statement from authorities on the reasons for the raid. The ECESR, founded by human rights lawyer and former leftist presidential candidate Khaled Ali, shared online a photo of one of the offices in the center showing computers smashed during the raid. Ten human rights organizations issued a statement denouncing the raid including Hisham Mubarak Law Center, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, DNE, Ahram Gate (Arabic), 12/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
Revolutionary doctor Mona Mina elected secretary general of doctors syndicate | AMAY (Arabic), Aswat Masriya
NASL calls for a week of mass protests| Ahram Gate ( Arabic), Mada Masr, Egypt Independent
Amnesty calls for transparency in case of Morsi’s aides | DNE
Cabinet to amend press regulation law | SIS
Egypt’s Muslim sisterhood takes lead in protests | AP


Four killed in Port Said, Cairo and Sinai
Police in Egypt said an Islamist militant blew himself up in his hideout to escape arrest on Thursday, wounding an officer in the process. The militant had been holed up in a north Cairo apartment when police raided the building and he set off the explosives when surrounded, police said. The blast injured a lieutenant, they said. Meanwhile, two elements of armed groups were killed by the second field army in Arish, security source said, after throwing two hand grenades on the troops. A wireless device and gun that belonged to a policeman that they murdered earlier were found in their possession, the source added. Another twelve suspects were arrested in the incident. Armed forces burnt and destroyed seven motorbikes without metal plates, two trucks and ten shanty houses, all reportedly belonging to the armed groups in the Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah area. A police recruit was also killed in Port Said when unidentified gunmen riding motorcycles fired at a security force deployed in the street. Police shot back, but the assailants fled through a side street. The exchange of fire resulted in the injury of recruit Ahmed Hamed Youssef. He was taken to the hospital but died from his injuries. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic), Aswat Masriya, 12/19/2013]


US Senate bill allows room for aid to return to Egypt
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly passed legislation on Wednesday to ease tight US controls on aid to Egypt, which was largely cut off after Egypt’s military ousted President Mohamed Mursi last summer. The panel passed the measure by a 16-1 vote. Backers of the legislation – which could set a precedent for US aid to any country after a coup – said it struck an appropriate balance between pushing Cairo to embrace democratic reforms and continuing the US commitment to Egypt. The “Egypt Assistance Reform Act of 2013” allows aid, but makes it subject to conditions such as adhering to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, cooperating on counter-terrorism and taking steps to restore democracy. The measure also revises the US “coup law,” which bars aid to countries whose democratically-elected head of state has been removed in a coup d’état or by military decree. [DNE, Reuters, Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic), SIS, 12/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Dialogue between Cairo and Tehran achieves progress: Egypt’s diplomatic mission chief | EGYNews
Saudi court upholds jail, lashes for Egyptian lawyer | AFP/DNE, Mada Masr

Image: Photo: ECESR