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Cablegate: Activists Prepare for El-Baradei's Arrival; Detainees

VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0215/01 0491604
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 181603Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0300
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000215

SIPDIS
FOR NEA/ELA AND DRL/NESCA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/02/18
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM EG
SUBJECT: ACTIVISTS PREPARE FOR EL-BARADEI'S ARRIVAL; DETAINEES
RELEASED

REF: 09 CAIRO 2279

CLASSIFIED BY: Donald A. Blome, Minister-Counselor, State, ECPO;
REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. KEY POINTS

-- (SBU) Activists affiliated with the political opposition are
planning to greet former IAEA Chairman Mohammed El-Baradei upon his
scheduled February 19 arrival in Cairo from Vienna. In recent
months, El-Baradei has spoken about a possible 2011 presidential
run if the GOE enacts political reforms to ensure free and fair
elections (reftel).

-- (U) El-Baradei's scheduled arrival has generated interest among
political activists and the independent press.

-- (C) Early on February 17, the GOE detained two "April 6"
activists and filed charges against them February 18 before
releasing them later in the day.

2. (C) Comment: Discussion of El-Baradei's potential candidacy and
his planned February 19 arrival seems to have energized opposition
political activists and the independent press, but El-Baradei's
broader public support remains unclear. Public reaction to
El-Baradei's actions once he arrives could be an indication of his
potential political staying power. El-Baradei has recently said he
does not intend to run for president, but wants to advance
democracy in Egypt. End comment.

--------------------------------------------- ---

Activists Prepare to Greet El-Baradei

--------------------------------------------- ---

3. (C) NGO activist Bassem Samir who is a member of the opposition
El-Ghad party told us he and some of his colleagues are organizing
activists to greet El-Baradei, and the "April 6" movement has said
they are participating in this effort. El-Baradei's planned
arrival has generated interest among activists and the independent
press. A Facebook group supporting El-Baradei's candidacy has
grown to almost 64,000 members. Egyptian novelist Alaa Al-Aswany
published a February 16 op-ed article in independent "Shorouq"
newspaper attributing youth enthusiasm for an El-Baradei candidacy
to GOE "failed and corrupt policies." Independent newspaper
Al-Dostour devoted considerable coverage February 17 to
El-Baradei's expected arrival, and called for citizens "who dream
of a nation free of corruption" to greet El-Baradei at the airport.

--------------------------------------------- --------

"April 6" Activists Arrested and Released

--------------------------------------------- --------

4. (C) In the early morning hours of February 17, police arrested
three "April 6" activists as they were driving in Cairo. "April 6"
leader Ahmed Salah told us police detained fellow leader Ahmed
Maher and two members, and subsequently released one of the
members. Salah noted that the group had been spray painting
political graffiti around Cairo welcoming El-Baradei and
criticizing the GOE. The "Egyptian Chronicles" blog posted a
photo February 17 of wall graffiti attributed to the activists
saying, "Mubarak's regime is over, support the change, support
El-Baradei's candidacy." Lawyers for the two detained activists
confirmed to us that the Public Prosecutor charged them on February
18 with "attempting to overthrow the government, forcibly changing
the constitution and incitement." "April 6'" lawyers and Ahmed
Salah confirmed to us that the GOE released the two activists on
bail with charges pending on February 18 at approximately 5 PM
local time. The lawyers did not expect the GOE to take further
action on the case due to a lack of evidence to support the


charges.
SCOBEY

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