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Cablegate: Accused Independent Newspaper Editor Presents

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #3272 3191548
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 151548Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7466
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS CAIRO 003272

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

NSC STAFF FOR WATERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PHUM PGOV KDEM EG
SUBJECT: ACCUSED INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER EDITOR PRESENTS
DEFENSE

REF: A. CAIRO 2825
B. CAIRO 2936
C. CAIRO 3133

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1.(U) The trial of Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the
independent newspaper al-Dustour, continued on November 14 in
New Cairo Court. Eissa presented his defense to charges that
he disturbed the peace and harmed Egypt's economic interests
by publishing rumors in late August that President Mubarak
was ill (reftels). We attended the trial, as did British and
Dutch diplomats and many members of the local press corps.

2. (U) Eisaa's attorneys called three Egyptian financial
experts as witnesses. Saad Hagres, managing editor of al-Alem
al-Youm, a financial newspaper, testified that Egyptian stock
market losses in late August could not be linked to the
rumors published in al-Dustour. He also opined, as a
financial journalist, that it is the obligation of the press
to publish any information, including rumors already
circulating, that could be of interest to investors. Ahmed
Sayed El Naggar, an analyst and writer with the al-Ahram
Center for Strategic Studies, testified that he saw no link
between the rumors published in al-Dustour and any decline in
the market, and questioned whether there actually was a
decline. The final defense witness, Mohammed El Naggar, a
journalist and economics professor, testified that the market
decline coincided with a general decline in global markets,
and noted that Egypt's market is heavily influenced by
foreign investors. At the conclusion of the defense's
presentation, the judge set the next hearing for December 5.

3.(SBU) Comment: Courtroom observers saw no surprises in the
testimony, which was favorable to Eissa and generally
unchallenged by the prosecution. Observers also noted that
the judge in the case appears to be making a sincere effort
to be fair to the defense. Nonetheless, the outcome will
probably hinge on a higher-level political decision. After
the hearing, a defense attorney for Eissa said that all the
defense can do is present as strong a case as possible,
making an adverse political decision more difficult for the
government.
RICCIARDONE

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