US embassy cable - 05CAIRO2506

EGYPT: AYMAN NOUR REFERRED TO TRIAL

Identifier: 05CAIRO2506
Wikileaks: View 05CAIRO2506 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Cairo
Created: 2005-03-30 14:26:00
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 002506 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC STAFF FOR ABRAMS/POUNDS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2015 
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, PREL, KDEM, EG, Ayman Nour 
SUBJECT: EGYPT: AYMAN NOUR REFERRED TO TRIAL 
 
REF: A. CAIRO 2285 
 
     B. CAIRO 2254 
     C. CAIRO 2202 
 
Classified by acting ECPO Counselor Al Magleby for reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
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Summary 
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1. (C) The Egyptian public prosecutor's office announced on 
March 26 that opposition leader Ayman Nour and five 
codefendants would stand trial for forgery beginning June 28. 
 Although the venue for the trial has not yet been publicly 
announced, a senior Ghad Party contact claimed to us that the 
case has been assigned to the same disreputable judge who 
tried the Saad Eddin Ibrahim case.  Nour remains steadfast in 
his assertions that the case against him has been fabricated 
for political reasons and confident that the trial will 
backfire against the GOE and increase his public support. 
Both Nour's lawyers and GOE judicial contacts assert that 
Nour's indictment does not necessarily bar him from 
candidacy.  End summary. 
 
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A Date in Court 
--------------- 
 
2. (C) The office of Egypt's public prosecution announced on 
March 26 that Ayman Nour and five codefendants will stand 
trial for forgery and related charges on June 28.  As 
reported ref C, Nour asserts that his codefendants are 
members of a criminal forgery gang hired by Egyptian state 
security to penetrate his office and the Ghad Party in order 
to fabricate a case against him.  In a March 28 meeting with 
visiting staffdel Weinberg, Nour alleged that the court date, 
three months after the completion of the prosecutor's 
investigation, was timed to maximize disruption to his 
presidential campaign and the Ghad Party's parliamentary 
campaigns. 
 
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Venue Rumors 
------------ 
 
3. (C) Although judicial authorities have yet to publicly 
announce the circuit and venue for Nour's trial, senior Ghad 
Party contact Hisham Kassem (protect) told us on March 28 
that his reliable sources were reporting that the case will 
be tried by Judge Adel Abdel Salam Gom'a.  Gom'a's reputation 
precedes him in Cairo's legal-political circles.  Gom'a has 
been selected to try many politically sensitive cases, most 
prominently the case of Saad Eddin Ibrahim (SEI), whom he 
twice convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to seven years 
imprisonment.  (Note: Both judgments were overturned on 
appeal.  The Court of Cassation's final published verdict on 
the SEI case read as a stinging critique of the legal 
reasoning offered by the prosecution, and accepted by Judge 
Gom'a, to convict him in the first instance.  End note.) 
Nour, who had been advised by Kassem of Gom'a's reported 
assignment, fumed about it in his meeting with staffdel 
Weinberg.  "There are 5,000 judges in Egypt and they chose 
this man to try me - what does that mean?" he asked 
rhetorically.  Kassem privately told us that Nour had been 
shaken by the news. 
 
4. (C) Comment:  Having watched Judge Gom'a in action during 
the SEI trial, we believe his reputation of being a willing 
tool in political cases is well earned.  However, in the 
absence of more information, we are not yet prepared to treat 
reports of Judge Gom'a's assignment as fact, although Kassem, 
a highly reliable source, was confident of his information. 
If true, Gom'a's assignment would be an ominous sign and will 
surely not aid the GOE's efforts to convince observers that 
Nour's is a "purely" criminal case.  End comment. 
 
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Implications 
------------ 
 
5. (C) In our March 28 meeting with Nour, the embattled 
politician remained steadfast in his view that the GOE's 
actions against him were increasing public sympathy that 
would eventually translate into political capital in his 
favor.  "They (the GOE) are putting themselves in a terrible 
position," Nour stated, vowing he would "put the government 
on trial with him."  Members of Nour's defense team, and 
contacts in Egypt's Ministry of Justice, have both told us 
that Nour's referral to trial does not necessarily affect his 
legal status as a presidential candidate (refs A and B). 
However, the modalities for the competitive presidential 
elections proposed by President Mubarak are still being 
hammered out by parliament and may not be announced until 
May.  It is possible that legislators could include a clause 
excluding those facing criminal indictment from participation 
in the presidential race.  In any case, Nour's bravado 
notwithstanding, it is obvious that the trial will deprive 
Nour and the Ghad Party of much of the time, energy, and 
resources they would need to make a significant showing in 
the fall elections. 
 
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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