Top News: Three Lawyers Defending AJE Journalists Quit Case in Protest

Three lawyers representing Al Jazeera English journalists currently on trial for terrorism-related charges suddenly stepped down on Thursday, accusing the Qatar-based satellite network of twisting the facts of the case to its own ends without regard for the defendants.

Nearly 65,000 vote on first day of Egypt’s expat voting
Figures from the first day of expat voting in Egypt’s presidential elections showed that nearly 65,000 people turned out worldwide, according to Abdel-Aziz Salman, spokesman for the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC). The foreign ministry has said initial indicators from Australia and the Gulf states show long queues at polling stations. Several stations reported a large turn out on the second day of voting abroad. Egypt’s largest Islamist coalition urged expats to boycott the presidential vote and a week of peaceful protests against the election. Leftist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi’s campaign said its overseas representatives have witnessed violations during the expat presidential voting currently taking place in 124 countries worldwide. Mona Amer, head of the expats committee in Sabbahi’s campaign, said the violations ranged from insulting his supporters to campaigning for presidential contender and former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi inside the polling station. Opaque ballot boxes were found in numerous polling stations, violating transparency regulations stipulated by the Presidential Electoral Committee (PEC), said another Sabbahi campaign representative. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 5/16/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Sisi: Exiting the cycle of poverty our focus | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)
  • Sabbahi reps stood up by Sisi envoys in TV debate, as Sisi plane takes off | Mada Masr
  • Sabbahi holding campaign rally in Alexandria Friday | Ahram Online
  • Sabbahi: Not every Mubarak supporter was corrupt and not every Morsi supporters is a terrorist | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)
  • Sabbahi: If I become president, lie about 30 June being coup will be refuted | Egypt Independent


Three lawyers defending AJE journalists quit case in protest
Three lawyers representing Al Jazeera English journalists currently on trial for terrorism-related charges suddenly stepped down on Thursday, accusing the Qatar-based satellite network of twisting the facts of the case to its own ends without regard for the defendants. The lawyer appointed to defend Australian journalist Peter Greste accused the Qatar-based satellite channel of spinning the case “to defame Egypt” without concern for their incarcerated staff members, tweeted Times reporter Bel Trew from the courtroom. Khaled Abou Bakr, who was hired to represent Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, also refused to participate in Thursday’s court session in protest against the prosecution’s stipulation that the defense lawyers pay a fee of EGP1.2 million to view video evidence against their clients, according to Fahmy’s brother. [Mada Masr, 5/15/2014]


Government reportedly negotiates $9 billion in Arab aid for next fiscal year
A senior official at the finance ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the government is negotiating with the three Gulf states a new aid program of $9 billion for the next fiscal year and right after the presidential elections at the end of this month. The official added that the Arab countries are willing to assist Egypt for an additional two or three years at the most. He also said that Egypt is negotiating with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait a grant of $4 billion to meet the needs of petroleum products, such as diesel fuel, petrol, and mazut. According to other Egyptian officials, petroleum aid from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait during the current fiscal year of 2013-2014 would reach $7.13 billion, of which $3.93 billion would arrive in the first half of the year and $3.2 billion in the second. [Egypt Independent, 5/15/2014]

Financial minister says subsidy removal plan may hurt company profits
Egyptian companies could suffer a fall in profits as the incoming government phases out energy subsidies, Egypt’s finance minister Hany Kadry Dimian said on Friday. “Companies are producing at subsidized energy prices but are selling at international prices,” Dimian told an investment forum in London. The minister said all changes would be well flagged but stressed that structural reform was a priority. “Phasing out energy subsidies … there is no choice,” Dimian added. The International Monetary Fund estimates Egypt’s energy subsidies amount to three times what the country spends on education and seven times its expenditure on health. [Reuters, 5/16/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt’s stocks rally on expat voting, positive financial results | Ahram Online
  • Egypt could tap global bond market after political transition | Reuters


NASL calls for a week of demonstrations ahead of elections
The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy called for supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to take the streets beginning today and protest the upcoming presidential elections under the slogan ‘Boycott the Presidency of Bloodshed.’ Several Egyptian cities witnessed small demonstrations Friday in response to NASL’s call. In the city of Abu Homs a group of women rallied before noon prayers calling for the release of detained Muslim Brotherhood leaders and a boycott of presidential elections. In Alexandria demonstrators supporting Morsi clashed with residents after marching through the streets chanting slogans against the military and the police. Security forces later dispersed the demonstration and arrested nine individuals on charges of rioting. In Giza, security forces fired teargas at Morsi supporters attempting to gather outside Cairo University just one day after dispersing an earlier protest. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 5/16/2014]


Interior Ministry says ready to secure presidential elections
Egypt’s Interior Ministry has said the imminent elections will witness tight security measures. The country will hold its first presidential election since the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi on May 26 and 27. “The presidential election is a new challenge for security forces,” said Major General Hani Abdel Latif, the ministry spokesman. All poll stations and subcommittees will be secured, he added. [Aswat Masriya, 5/16/2014]

Brotherhood students burn armored police car in front of Al-Azhar University
Groups of Azhar students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood clashed on Friday with security forces at the Azhar University and Cairo University hostels. Clashes broke out at the Azhar University hostel after students organized a march at the hostel mosque, the portal said. Security forces prevented the students from marching forward and tear-gassed them, prompting students to hurl stones and petrol bombs at the police. In the course of the clashes, the students attacked at set fire to an armored police vehicle during the clashes. Security forces eventually expelled the students from the area and gained control of the fire [AMAY (Arabic), Aswat Masriya, 5/16/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Four accused of smuggling arrested in north Sinai | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Five accused of involvement in acts of terror arrested in Giza | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Five Egyptians arrested for vandalising army-built memorial in Rabaa | Ahram Online


UK concerned about “closure of political space” in Egypt
The United Kingdom has expressed its concern about the current political situation in Egypt, pledging to continue helping Egyptians to move to full democracy. In a statement after meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Nabil Fahmy, William Hague, the UK foreign secretary, called for the independence of the judiciary in Egypt. The UK government has been critical of alleged human rights violations in Egypt, expressing “deep concern,” particularly about mass death sentences. Hague believes these sentences damage the reputation of Egypt’s judicial system. Hague’s statement said his country “will continue to support the Egyptian people’s aspiration for a full and functioning democracy in all its aspects.” It also called on Egyptian authorities to respect commitments in the new constitution, including “an independent judiciary, a vibrant civil society and a free media.” [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 5/15/2014]

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