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Legendary Egyptian journalist backtracks on Mubarak comments | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Illicit Gains Authority [IGA], which is investigating the source of the wealth of a number of Mubarak regime figures, including the former Egyptian president himself, summoned veteran Egyptian journalist Mohammed Hassanein Heikal, age 87, to question him about information that he claimed to be in possession of. During an interview with popular Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, Heikal claimed to be in possession of “credible documents” that proved that Mubarak was worth between $9 and $11 billion, however when the Egyptian journalist was summoned by the IGA and asked to hand-over the documents in question, Heikal revealed that he was not in possession of any such documents and that his information was based on foreign media reports.

The head of the IGA investigation, Assistant Minister Essam El-Gohary, issued a statement asserting that “IGA investigators questioned Heikal for a number of hours, particularly as the IGA investigations did not match the kind of figures that Heikal was talking about.”

As for the “documented and verified” information that Heikal claimed to be in possession of, El-Gohary said that the Egyptian journalist claimed that the “sources” that he alluded to in his Al-Ahram interview were international reports and articles published by foreign media agencies. Heikal also said that he was not responsible for the headline used by Al-Ahram which claimed that he was in possession of “credible documents” and he stressed that it is the mission of the IGA to verify the reports [regarding Mubarak’s wealth].

The Egyptian Al-Wafd newspaper seized the opportunity to criticize the well-known Egyptian journalist and media figure, himself a former Al-Ahram Editor-in-Chief, featuring a front-page headline that read “Heikal manipulates public opinion and fails to provide any documents about Mubarak’s wealth.”

In the same statement, El-Gohary said that the IGA needs solid and legal evidence in order for its investigations to progress. He added that it is not right for the media to speculate on Mubarak’s wealth because some people take such speculation as fact. He also called for anyone with genuine documentation or information that could help the IGA investigation into the former Egyptian president’s wealth to come forward.

Al-Ahram Chairman Labib El-Sebai told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Heikal’s interview to Al-Ahram did not contain anything that indicates that he [Heikal] was in possession of documents with information on the wealth of the former president. Heikal said that he had looked at reports [regarding Mubarak’s wealth]; he did not say that he was in possession of [verified] documents, and there is a vast difference between the two statements.”

El-Sebai also said that he believed that Heikal being called to testify before the IGA indicates that the investigation is looking for any new leads or information regarding former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s wealth, and its sources.

In related news, the trial of two former Egyptian petroleum ministers for their role in alleged illegal activity in gas exports to Israel, in addition to five other officials charged with corruption and harming the public interest, has been postponed until 28 June 2011. Former Egyptian petroleum minister Sameh Fahmy is accused of “committing the crimes of harming the country’s interests, squandering public funds and enabling others to make financial profits through selling and exporting Egyptian gas to the state of Israel at a price below international market rates.” The 6 officials are accused of causing Egypt losses worth more than $714 million.