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Cablegate: 2009 Human Rights Report Preview for the Mfa

VZCZCXRO2544
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #2052 3011530
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 281530Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4015
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0460
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0317

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 002052

SIPDIS

FOR NEA/ELA, DRL/NESCA AND IO/HR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/28/2029
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM SOCI EG
SUBJECT: 2009 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT PREVIEW FOR THE MFA

REF: A. 9/23 STEWART-GABR MEETING READOUT B. CAIRO 1044 C. CAIRO 930 Classified By: Economic-Political Minister-Counselor Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) On October 26, we previewed for MFA Deputy Director for Human Rights Omar Shalaby the main issues we expect the 2009 human rights report to cover. We noted MFA Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs Naela Gabr's September 23 request to DRL PDAS Stewart in New York for bilateral coordination to "avoid inaccuracies" in the 2009 report (ref A). We also emphasized that we want to continue discussing the report as part of our bilateral human rights dialogue. Shalaby said the GOE believes previous human rights reports were "unbalanced," and focused more on negative developments than on positive ones. He noted that the MFA maintains its long-standing rejection of the report, which the MFA spokesman has publicly articulated in previous years.

2.(C) Shalaby noted that the Egyptian press regularly criticizes President Mubarak and other senior GOE officials, and that about 160,000 blogs are on-line. We agreed that the Egyptian press is one of the most open in the region, but we expressed concern over arrests and harassment of journalists and bloggers, and the blocking of some blogs. Regarding blogger Karim Amer, in jail since October 2006 and sentenced to four years in prison in February 2007 for insulting Islam and Mubarak (ref C), Shalaby said there could be "new" developments coming, but would not elaborate. Shalaby asserted that attention to discrimination against homosexuals would undermine the report's credibility in Egypt. We responded that cases such as the January-May 2009 detention of 10 men on suspicion of homosexual debauchery are troubling (ref B).

3.(C) Shalaby committed to passing us information on selected issues for the report. When we noted that the Department released the 2008 report in late February 2009, Shalaby said that the GOE would be anxious about this year's release coinciding with the February 8-19, 2010 UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of Egypt. Scobey

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