US embassy cable - 05CAIRO2285

CHARGES AGAINST AYMAN NOUR: ADDITIONAL DETAILS AND REACTIONS

Identifier: 05CAIRO2285
Wikileaks: View 05CAIRO2285 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Cairo
Created: 2005-03-23 16:25:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PHUM PGOV PREL KDEM EG Ayman Nour
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 002285 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC STAFF FOR POUNDS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/23/2015 
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, PREL, KDEM, EG, Ayman Nour 
SUBJECT: CHARGES AGAINST AYMAN NOUR:  ADDITIONAL DETAILS 
AND REACTIONS 
 
REF: A. CAIRO 2254 
 
     B. CAIRO 2202 
 
Classified by ECPO Counselor John Desrocher for reasons 1.4 
(b) and (d). 
 
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Summary 
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1.  (C)  The statement of Public Prosecutor Maher Abdel 
Wahed, released on March 22 when the GOE formally charged 
Ghad Party leader and aspirant presidential candidate Ayman 
Nour with forgery and knowingly using forged documents (ref 
A), provides additional details on the GOE's case against 
Nour.  In the most recent issue of the Ghad party newspaper, 
Nour continued his defiant and dismissive counter-attack 
against the GOE (ref B).  His supporters believe that the GOE 
aims to end his political career.  End summary. 
 
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The GOE's Case 
-------------- 
 
2.  (SBU)  In his March 22 statement, Egypt's Public 
Prosecutor (analogous to the U.S. Attorney General) announced 
the referral of Nour (along with co-defendants Ismail 
Zakariyya Abdel Latif, Ayman Ismail, Galal Lutfy El Shinawy, 
Farag Shedid Abdel Hamid, Ahmad Abdel Shafi, and Mervat 
Saber) to a criminal court.  He also noted that they are 
prohibited from foreign travel, and called for the arrest of 
an unnamed additional defendant who remains at large. 
 
3.  (SBU)  The Public Prosecutor said that his investigations 
uncovered that one of the defendants (unnamed) had used names 
on obituary lists to forge 100 proxies as part of the Ghad 
Party's registration application and that the total number of 
forged proxies amounted to 1,435. 
 
4.  (SBU)  Abdel Wahed further said that his investigation 
team had questioned 12 individuals, and had collected 40 
witnesses.  He noted that the prosecution started the 
investigation the same day Nour's immunity was lifted for 
fear that the evidence would be "lost."  He added that the 
prosecution also searched Nour's house the same day and his 
car, which was left locked at the PA, after securing the 
permission of PA Speaker Serour. 
 
5.  (SBU)  The Public Prosecutor asserted that no exceptional 
measures were taken in this case, and that Nour was released 
before the expiration of the preventive detention period 
stipulated by the court.  He added that the charges leveled 
against Nour are all included in the penal code and that his 
being the head of a party does not make him immune to 
investigation in a crime, noting that "everybody is equal 
before the law."  The Public Prosecutor asserted that the 
investigation did not touch at all the Ghad Party itself. 
 
6.  (SBU)  Abdel Wahed stated that, on searching Nour's 
office, the prosecution found evidence that clearly showed 
that Nour had committed the forgery, and that one of the 
defendants confessed that he was ordered by Nour to set fire 
to some of the proxies in the office. 
 
7.  (SBU)  The prosecution charged Nour and three others with 
personally - as well as with the help of others - forging 
stamps and seals that belong to the GOE.  All defendants 
other than Nour were charged with forging official documents. 
 Nour himself was also charged with participating with others 
in instigating, conspiring, and helping his co-defendants to 
commit forgery.  According to the GOE's case, Nour gave his 
co-defendants a number of authentic proxies as well as money 
necessary to purchase the material for the forgeries. 
 
8.  (SBU)  Finally, the Public Prosecutor warned against any 
attempt to use the Nour case "to incite foreign powers to 
encroach on Egypt's rights and sovereignty" under the guise 
of protecting human rights and democracy, stressing that this 
would be unacceptable.  He asserted that the rule of law is 
the base of rule in Egypt and that there is no democracy 
without justice and no justice without the rule of law. 
 
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Reactions 
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9.  (SBU)  The March 23 issue of the Ghad Party's weekly 
newspaper quoted Nour's assertion that the GOE's charges are 
false and the entire case is fabricated.  Nour insisted that 
his trial will reveal the truth.  Nour argued that the GOE's 
prosecution will only increase the strength of the Ghad 
Party's resolve.  He announced that will hold a press 
conference on the evening of March 23 in Bab El Sha'riyya, 
his working-class parliamentary district.  Nour asserted that 
the charges were partially driven by the GOE's effort to stop 
him from visiting the EU parliament in Strasbourg in response 
to an invitation recently addressed to him by an EU 
Parliamentary delegation.  The Ghad Party leadership also 
announced plans to hold an emergency meeting on March 26. 
The Ghad newspaper stressed that the GOE's prosecution of 
Nour will not affect his plans to run for the presidency and 
asserted that the Public Prosecutor's statement is further 
evidence of the political nature of the GOE's prosecution of 
Nour. 
 
10.  (C)  Hisham Kassem (protect), Ghad Party vice president 
and publisher of the independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm, 
told us he had been expecting the GOE to proceed with 
prosecution of Nour.  He thought that the GOE intended to 
drag the case out.  Kassem noted that Nour was determined to 
run for president.  Kassem said that he thought Nour 
"absolutely" has a good defense team.  (Comment: 
Notwithstanding Kassem's confidence in Nour's lawyers, we 
remain puzzled by their statements to us on March 22, 
reported ref A, that Nour would be ineligible to run for 
office while the case against him proceeds.  Our current best 
interpretation of relevant Egyptian law is that Nour is 
"innocent until proven guilty" and should technically be able 
to run while on trial.  End comment.) 
 
11.  (C)  Lawyer Negad El Bora'i (protect) told us that he 
was not surprised that the GOE had brought charges against 
Nour, particularly since Nour came out of prison with a 
defiant public relations campaign rather than laying low for 
a while.  Bora'i, who said he has joined Nour's defense team, 
agreed that if Nour is convicted, he will not be able to run 
for parliament.  Bora'i said he does not think the presidency 
is the issue, but rather the prosecution is focused on 
preventing Nour from returning to the People's Assembly. 
According to Egyptian law on political rights, a conviction 
for most crimes (including forgery) results in a convict's 
loss of his political rights.  "This means that he could not 
take part in the 2005 elections," Bora'i continued, "and 
would also be kicked out of the Ghad.  If he appeals, then we 
are talking about the 2010 PA elections." 
 
12.  (C)  According to Bora'i, the GOE is effectively saying: 
 "anyone can participate in political life, but there are 
limits and consequences.  If you get into the game, you must 
expect and accept the consequences."  Bora'i continued: "This 
is what is happening with Ayman and if anyone complains, the 
Government's answer is: this is all done legally and you 
cannot question our independent and fair judiciary.  The same 
applies to NGOs.  They are allowed to operate, but if they 
'cross the line,' a media campaign is launched against them. 
If the NGOs complain, the GOE's ready answer is:  this is the 
free press or the people's representatives in Parliament who 
are talking.  The GOE has nothing to do with it." 
 
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Comment 
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13.  (C)  The GOE's case against Nour appears to hinge on 
very technical, forensic issues.  The trial, if it proceeds 
as expected, will easily be the most important political 
prosecution in Egypt since Saad Eddin Ibrahim's (SEI), which 
ran from 2000-2003.  Given the political ramifications in 
this election year, the Nour case, in our view, will likely 
eclipse the significance of the SEI case.  End comment. 
 
 
Visit Embassy Cairo's Classified Website: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/cairo 
 
You can also access this site through the 
State Department's Classified SIPRNET website. 
 
GRAY 

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