CAIRO: Political and human rights activists filed complaints to the Prosecutor General Tuesday against Al-Wafd newspaper and other portals that published what they say is a fabricated Wikileaks document claiming that they received “secret funding” from the US.
“We will file a complaint against editor-in-chief of Al-Wafd newspaper, Soliman Gouda, and El-Sayed El-Badawy, head of the board of directors, and all of those who deliberately lied and fabricated information to defame us,” said political activist Gamila Ismail, whose name was mentioned in the document.
The document, reference number 08CAIRO941, which was translated into Arabic by an agency called Arabia, lists the name of public figures falsely alleging that they attended secret meetings with the US Ambassador and USAID and have accepted funding.
Some of the names cited in the document include Judge Hisham El-Bastawisi, publisher Hisham Kassem, Director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) Hafez Abou Seada; EOHR member Ghada Shahbandar, Nasser Amin, director of the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, and political analyst Amr Choubaki.
The original document in English does not include any reference to funding.
It states that the “[US] Embassy Cairo continues to actively support and promote the President’s Freedom Agenda. We are in close contact with the wide range of Egypt’s political oppositionists, democracy and human rights activists, and journalists from independent and opposition newspapers, as well as bloggers who promote democracy and human rights.”
Abou Seada released a statement saying that he filed a complaint against the Arab Media Network to the Prosecutor General for publishing on Jan. 2 an article titled “Scandal of the foreign-financing on Wikileaks” which includes allegations of secret financing by the US embassy in Cairo to human rights activists.
In the statement, EOHR said that it respects freedom of expression but denounces defamation without evidence.
“EOHR calls on writers and media specialists to make sure that they only write facts in order not to tarnish the image of good people,” it said.
Editor of Al-Wafd online news portal, Adel Sabry, in a call-in to the television show “Ahl El Balad” on Egypt 25 channel, confessed that the article published in Al-Wafd was inaccurate.
“[He] admitted that because he has a conscience and can’t go to sleep at night knowing that he has wronged people,” said Gamila Ismail. She called on Sabry and other Wafd journalists to publish the truth on their website and a retraction in the paper.
She urged people to check the original document on Wikileaks in English.
She also called on the Journalists’ Syndicate to investigate the issue and refer the journalists who translated and published this information to an internal investigation.
On Thursday, 17 offices of 10 local and international NGOs were subjected to an ad hoc inspection where documents and computers were seized in a move that was justified by the government as part of an investigation into illicit funding.
The raids triggered worldwide condemnation and, according to reports, may threaten $1.5 in US aid to Egypt.