EDA founders testify in probe against El-Ruwainy; reporters, activists detained

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CAIRO: Three founding members of the Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA) were questioned by the military prosecution Thursday regarding the complaint they filed against member of the ruling military council, General Hassan El-Ruwainy.

El-Ruwainy accused, in a phone interview to Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr satellite channel, EDA and other political and civil society movements like April 6 and the Kefaya movements of causing a rift between the army and the people, receiving foreign funds and espionage.

"EDA was one of the organizations listed by El-Ruwainy, which caused us a material and moral damage," EDA’s Executive Director Hossam El-Din Ali told Daily News Egypt Thursday.

"We accused El-Ruwainy with libel since this harms our reputation and could make us subject to physical attacks by regular Egyptians who may think we are foreign agents and traitors," Ali added.

Ali said that EDA presented a CD including the recording of El-Ruwainy’s accusations, in addition to publications containing our mission, vision and activities.

"We cooperate with many government organizations like Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Social Fund for Development. We even presented many research papers to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The latest one [detailed] how parliamentary elections should be moderated," said Ali.

"I wonder how we are then accused of espionage by SCAF members after closely cooperating with them," asked Ali.

He said that the military prosecution was inclined to defend El-Ruwainy, claiming that the general did not target them specifically with his accusations.

"We made it clear that El-Ruwainy specifically targeted us simply by listing EDA as one of the organizations accused of espionage," Ali commented.

EDA also presented copies of its sources of funding, budget and financial statements, Ali added.

Meanwhile, three activists and the crew of ONTV satellite channel were arrested Thursday outside military prosecution, the latter while covering the summoning of the EDA founders.

Ahmed Badawy, Hend Khattab and Gasser Imam, also members of EDA, were standing outside the prosecution office in solidarity with their colleagues.

The three activists were released, but the ONTV crew including cameraman Mohamed Farouk, reporter Mohamed Hamdy and senior producer Hossam Abdel Moniem were still in custody at press time.

Lawyer Ragia Omran said that sources inside the prosecution said that the crew was taken to check the material they filmed and not for interrogation.

EDA’s media coordinator Esraa Abdel Fattah was present in front of the prosecution and told Daily News Egypt that the military police arrested the crew and the activists for shooting footage near a military zone without permission.

"They were given an official memo [not a report] for shooting in a no photo zone without permission," Abdel Fattah said.

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