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Rights groups demand investigations into cases of eavesdropping

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Civil society organisations call for those who leaked private phone conversations to be held accountable

Asmaa Mahfouz  (AFP Photo)

Asmaa Mahfouz
(AFP Photo)

A collective of Egyptians rights groups demanded investigations into the broadcasting of private telephone conversations on a television programme.

The conversations were aired on the programme “Black Box”, which airs on Al-Qahira Wal-Nas satellite channel, and included alleged recordings of activists Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel, Asmaa Mahfouz and former lawmaker Mostafa Al-Naggar.

The host of the programme Abdel Raheem Ali aired the conversations, said the groups, “which goes to show his disregard for the law and ability to act as if he had impunity”.

“The [Prosecutor General's] office has a major responsibility to ensure its credibility and impartiality regardless of the political affiliations of all parties involved,” they added.

The rights groups, which filed complaints to the Prosecutor General’s office, demanded the investigations of Vodafone and Etisalat, the service providers for the assets “to determine whether [they] conspired to record and leak these conversations”.

“Under the Egyptian law, violation of privacy including eavesdropping or illegally recording or broadcasting conversations conducted privately or telephonically without the consent of those concerned is an offence punishable by imprisonment,” said one of the joint statements issued by the groups.

The signatories to the two statements include the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre and Al-Haqanya Centre.

The groups empasised that “they would not stop the legal struggle to punish the perpetrators of this crime, and will pursue all legal avenues until all responsible for eavesdropping on the activists are found and held accountable.”

Al-Naggar released a statement on Tuesday saying the recorded telephone conversations were released for the purpose of “character assassination” and driven by “political revenge against opponents”.

He held the state responsible for the leaks and said he would pursue legal means to find those responsible.

6 April Youth Movement founder Ahmed Maher and member of the group’s political bureau Mohamed Adel, along with prominent activist Ahmed Douma, were each sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour and fines of EGP 50,000, found guilty of protesting without the Ministry of Interior’s approval, rioting, “thuggery”, using violence against Abdeen Courthouse security personnel and the possession of melee weapons. The appeal for the case has been set to 8 January.


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