Egypt loves its rumors, but two in particular have captivated the mainstream in 2007 with grave repercussions for many who found themselves in the middle of a political brouhaha.Both involved Egyptian government officials, former and present. The first was the death of former civil servant Ashraf Marwan – who is also the son-in-law of Gamal Abdel Nasser – in vague circumstances after presumably falling from the balcony of his London home. The second was the pervasive rumor about the deteriorating health of President Hosni Mubarak and, in some cases, even his death. While the latter was eventually quashed after a month or so of speculation, the circumstances surrounding Marwan’s death remain ambiguous to this day.Marwan was found dead on June 27 having apparently fallen from the balcony of his West End flat in London, where he lived since leaving government service in the 1970s. He was 62.What compounded his shady death were Israeli claims that Marwan was a Mossad agent who alerted Israel about the impending Egyptian-Syrian attack in 1973 hours before it took place.The Israelis didn’t mobilize their forces and it was later said that they suspected Marwan of being a double agent. Officially, Marwan was a senior information official for both former President Abdel Nasser and his successor Anwar Sadat. However, he was also believed to have worked for the Egyptian intelligence service.This is not the first time an Egyptian public figure falls off a London balcony. Famed actress Soad Hosni also fell to her death in the UK. Keeping with the theme, it was said at the time that she was due to publish her memoirs, which would have implicated senior officials in the 60s and 70s. As with Hosni’s case, rumors abounded about whether Marwan was killed or committed suicide. The Egyptian press believed he was most likely murdered. It was also reported that he was planning to publish his autobiography and feared assassination in the months up to his death.Scotland Yard’s inquest into his death was opened and adjourned, and then reopened and then postponed. The rumors prompted President Hosni Mubarak to declare that Marwan was a “loyal patriot who did not spy for either the Egyptians or Israelis.But this wasn’t the President’s only response to rumors that year. Mubarak’s statement on Marwan preceded a spate of rumors in August about his own health and its alleged deterioration. Opposition and independent press reported that he was hospitalized or was overseas for medical treatment. But the most serious rumor went as far as saying that he had passed away.There was no official response until Mubarak made an appearance later in the month in Borg El-Arab near Alexandria. He finally referred to the rumor in an interview with Al-Ahram newspaper. First Lady Suzanne Mubarak was the first to dismiss the rumors in an interview with Al Arabiya satellite channel.Opposition groups criticized the government for its slow response in quashing the rumor, blaming it on the state’s endemic lack of transparency. When the rumors finally died, the state reacted in customary style by pressing charges against editor of Al-Dostour Ibrahim Eissa for questioning the health of the president and allegedly damaging the economy. Grand Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi waded into the issue and condemned the spreading of rumors as haram, additionally calling the propagators immoral.