Egyptian rights activist cleared

From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)

BBC News | 18 March, 2003

A court in Cairo has acquitted a leading human rights activist, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, after a second retrial for defaming Egypt. Dr Ibrahim has dual US and Egyptian nationality, and the case has strained relations between Washington and Cairo. He was also cleared of illegally accepting and misusing funds from the European Commission. He had been sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a state security court last July but was freed in December, pending his latest retrial. Dr Ibrahim was once a friend of President Mubarak's wife, Suzanne. But he fell out with the Egyptian government after investigating discrimination against the country's Coptic Christian minority, and exposing parliamentary fraud. Aid threat His case gained the attention of Western politicians and human right groups after he was jailed in Cairo's notorious Tora Prison in June 2000 along with 27 supporters. He was freed in February 2002 when a court ordered a retrial, before going back to prison last July. But after the US threatened to withhold a $130m aid package, intended to help compensate Egypt for revenue loss from tourism after the 11 September attacks, Mr Mubarak ordered a review of his case. Dr Ibrahim, 64, is a sociology professor at Cairo's American University and director of a think tank dedicated to peace and democracy. The authorities claimed he deceived organisations including the European Union, Israel's University of Haifa and Nato.