Activist referred to emergency trial for libel against Petroleum Minister

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By Heba Fahmy

CAIRO: April 6 Youth Movement member Karim Reda was referred to the Cairo Economic Court for an emergency trial on Saturday for charges of libel and slander against Minister of Petroleum Sameh Fahmy.

Fahmy has called for LE 1 million in compensation.

“I didn’t libel or slander [Fahmy],” Reda told Daily News Egypt. “I just collected all the news stories regarding his recent violations and [posted] them on my Facebook page.”

The April 6 Youth Movement issued a statement on Tuesday that called on political activists to support Reda in his legal battle against the Petroleum Minister.

Reda participated in launching a Facebook campaign entitled “The Egyptian Campaign for Boycotting Gas.” The campaign garnered 858 members and condemned Egypt’s exportation of natural gas to Israel.

The campaign accuses the gas companies of wasting Egypt’s resources on a “Zionist state” that uses the resource to attack and kill Palestinians.

The campaign also encouraged people to stop paying their gas bills as a form of civil disobedience in order to force the government to stop exporting gas to Israel.

“We will not pay the bills as long as there is exportation,” the campaign’s logo reads.

“While working for Petrotrade Company, I discovered that people can refrain from paying the gas bills and prevent the gas bill collectors from entering their homes as a form of civil disobedience,” Reda told Daily News Egypt.

Petrotrade filed a lawsuit against Reda, accusing him of inciting people to refrain from paying their bills. In December, the Zaitoun Court found Reda innocent of the charges in a verdict described by many as “historical and unprecedented.” Many praised him for launching the campaign against an “enemy state.”

Reda stated that his Facebook campaign is the real reason behind Fahmy’s allegations.

The Egyptian-Israeli consortium Egyptian Mediterranean Gas (EMG) reached a deal to export natural gas to Israel in June 2005.

The deal stipulated that Egypt supply Israel with 1.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year for 15 years, at a price of $1.50 per million British thermal units (BTU). Critics of the deal stated that Egypt was selling the natural gas for a price well below what is commonly sold in the international market.

In July 2009, a new deal was formulated whereby Egypt formally agreed to sell between 12.5–16 billion cubic meters of liquified natural gas (LNG) per year to Israel for a period of 17-22 years. The Cairo-based EMG will supply the gas to Israeli firm Dorad Energy for a total reported cost of between $2.1–3.3 billion.

Critics have maintained that even under the new deal, Egypt is selling its LNG at $2.98 per million BTU, which is still far below the international market price.

Political activists and critics have repeatedly accused the ministry of wasting Egypt’s resources for the sake of an “enemy state,” and launched a long legal battle against the ministry.

The battle ended with the Supreme Administrative Court authorizing the sale of gas to Israel in February 2010, while adding that the government should monitor the prices and quantity of its exports.


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