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Cablegate: Trial of Independent Newspaper Editor Moves Forward

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #3133 2981216
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251216Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7293

UNCLAS CAIRO 003133

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC STAFF FOR WATERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KPAO EG
SUBJECT: TRIAL OF INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER EDITOR MOVES FORWARD

REF: A. CAIRO 2825
B. CAIRO 2936

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (U) The trial of Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the
independent newspaper al-Dustour, resumed on October 24 in
New Cairo Court. Eissa is charged with disturbing the peace,
and with harming national economic interests for publishing
rumors in late August that President Mubarak was ill.
(reftels).

2. (U) The trial, attended by polof, numerous journalists,
and Dutch, British and German diplomats, opened with
testimony from prosecution witnesses regarding the alleged
negative economic impact of the rumors about Mubarak's
health. The prosecution offered this testimony in support of
its claim that publication of the rumors caused a USD 350
million loss to the Egyptian stock market. Ahmed Saad,
chairman of Egypt's Capital Market Authority, testified that
while the Cairo stock market declined in late August, he was
not able to directly link the decline to the rumors. Atef
Ali Ibrahim, Sub-Governor for Investments of the Central Bank
of Egypt, testified that capital outflows were heavy on
August 28 and 29, the days al-Dustour published news of the
rumors, but said that he could not be certain of a link
between the outflows and the rumors. (Note: The publication
of the rumors and the capital outflows also coincided with
initial reverberations from the U.S. home loan crises in
world financial markets. End note.)

3. (U) At the conclusion of the prosecution's evidence, the
court ordered the case adjourned until November 14, when
additional evidence will be heard. The prosecution,
apparently disappointed with the testimony regarding the
alleged economic impact of the rumors, requested the
opportunity to present evidence concerning the psychological
impact of the rumors on the Egyptian people. While the judge
did not comment on the prosecution's request, he concluded
the session by confirming, at the request of the defense,
that the case was before a misdemeanor court, and not a state
security court (from which a verdict could not be appealed).

4. (SBU) Comment: The sense among observers in the courtroom
was that the testimony went well for Eissa. Nonetheless, the
ultimate verdict will likely hinge on a political decision as
to the message the GOE wants to send to journalists, and the
case is probably far from over.
RICCIARDONE

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