Cablegate: Ayman Nour Harassed in Hurghada

DE RUEHEG #2066/01 3021749
P 291749Z OCT 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 002066



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2029

REF: A. CAIRO 2031 B. CAIRO 1975 C. CAIRO 1857 Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1.KEY POINTS -- (C) On October 25, El-Ghad Party Leader Ayman Nour told us that during an October 24 "door knock" campaign trip to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, a crowd of ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) supporters and Interior Ministry State Security officers trapped him inside a restaurant for about 90 minutes. -- (C) Nour said that the crowd beat one of his assistants. However, post cannot confirm this account through photos and video of the incident, or interviews with Nour and his supporters. -- (C) Nour said that once the Interior Ministry officers noticed an American film maker with Nour, they departed and the crowd began to support him. -- (C) During Nour's October 25 recounting of the incident, he was surrounded by a group of young activists, one of whom is evidently helping with his planned November 7 travel to Washington.

2.(C) Comment: This appears to be the second confrontation between Nour and security services in a week (ref A). The renewed focus on Nour appears to be tied more to his anti-succession efforts than the "door knock" campaign which started earlier in the summer. Nour appears to be gathering a retinue of young, politically active, tech-savvy supporters. However, he remains at odds with many of the other key opposition figures and parties, and it is an open question whether his message will resonate with the Egyptian public. End comment.

3.(C) Following reports of harassment on October 24 in Hurghada, PolOff met with Ayman Nour at his residence the evening of October 25. XXXXXXXXXXXX (Note: Per ref A, XXXXXXXXXXXX was also reportedly detained for a short time by police in an anti-succession event in Cairo on October 21. End Note.)

4.(C) Nour said that on Saturday October 24 he arrived in Hurghada for meetings with supporters. (Note: Nour travelled to Hurghada and Luxor as part of his outreach or "door knock" campaign. Please see ref C for more on this. End note.) Following their arrival in Hurghada, XXXXXXXXXXXX photographed the posting of several pictures of President Mubarak on the wall of an empty building across from Nour's hotel, in the hotel lobby, and the hotel's elevator. (Note: Nour's staff provided PolOff with a CD which includes copies of these pictures and video excerpts of the events that evening. End Note.) That evening, on the way to dinner, XXXXXXXXXXXX said he was separated from the group and beaten (at a distance of about 10 meters from the restaurant) by a number of youth for approximately six minutes. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he believes they were looking for his camera which he hid in his shirt. He was hit several times from the back with a stick on both the head and torso. (Note: PolOff was not able to see any outward signs of the attack. End note.)

5.(C) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, people then began to gather outside the restaurant and its owner assisted XXXXXXXXXXXX who took shelter in the restaurant. Nour said after XXXXXXXXXXXX arrived the crowd outside the restaurant grew and began shouting pro-Mubarak slogans. He said that there were 40 plainclothes SSIS present along with a crowd of about 200 local people. Nour and those with him were then trapped inside the restaurant for about an hour and a half. Nour and his staff called police several times. When they arrived the police left without intervening. Nour said that once security personnel learned that there was an American filmmaker present things began to change. Nour also said there was one SSIS officer present who appeared to be leading the group but he did not know his name or title. Once that officer left, Nour says the crowd changed, becoming his "supporters." CAIRO 00002066 002.2 OF 002

6.(C) Nour also said local NDP officials were in the group surrounding the restaurant and had, at the outset, led the group in chanting pro-Mubarak slogans. When he left the restaurant, supporters gathered to greet him, among them he said were some of the same officials. During PolOff's visit, Nour received a call XXXXXXXXXXXX. According to Nour, XXXXXXXXXXXX had been part of the harassment, but had also been among those who greeted him later. Nour said XXXXXXXXXXXX had called to apologize for the incident and expressed concern about the beating of XXXXXXXXXXXX. (Note: Although Nour's accounts were accompanied by video evidence viewed by PolOff, the tapes do not clearly demonstrate crowd size, evidence of violence against Nour or his staff, or what slogans the crowd was chanting. End note.) ----------------------------------------- Nour's New Staff and Travel to Washington -----------------------------------------

7.(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said Nour intends to travel on November 7. (Note: Nour confirmed that his request for permission from the Public Prosecutor has been pending for three weeks and that the Prosecutor's office told him it had not made a decision and would get back to him no earlier than October 29. End Note.) XXXXXXXXXXXX (Note: XXXXXXXXXXXX, who told us separately he meets with Nour only occasionally, was not in Hurghada with Nour. XXXXXXXXXXXX

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