CAIRO: Egypt’s new interior minister vowed that private telephones will no longer be tapped, MENA news agency reported on Thursday, revealing the extent of the old regime’s grip on society.
"The era of tapping private phones is over," Mansour El-Essawy said in an interview with the private ON TV satellite channel, extracts of which were published on MENA.
"There will be no phone tapping except with the prior permission of the general prosecution according to the law," he said.
His statements come amid calls to dissolve the powerful State Security Investigations, a branch of the interior ministry that monitored political dissent and was long accused of corruption and torture.
El-Essawy said most SSI officers had been not showing up for work, but that the apparatus had not been dissolved.
"The role of the apparatus will be limited to fighting terrorism and political crimes such as espionage," the minister said.
"It will no longer intervene in universities and institutions and will no longer choose the imams of mosques or control arms licenses."
Insecurity has been rife in Egypt since a popular uprising toppled former strongman Hosni Mubarak, as the new cabinet warned of a "counter-revolution" by diehards of the old regime.
When he resigned on Feb. 11, Mubarak handed power to a military council that has vowed to pave the way for a free democratic society.