Tue, Feb 01, 2011 | WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks: Imprisoned Egyptian Opposition Leader: Defend Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights
Ayman Nour, one of the senior leaders of the Egyptian opposition who is currently organizing a coalition to create an interim government, wrote an eloquent letter from prison in 2006 to then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, in which he implored the U.S. not to stand by and ignore his plight, according to a new cable released by Wikileaks.
Nour, leader of Egypt’s El Ghad (“Tomorrow”) Party and a former presidential candidate, was imprisoned by the government of President Hosni Mubarak in January 2005 on grounds of forging election papers. In February 2006 Nour wrote a letter from Tora Ranch General Prison in southern Cairo that was hand-delivered to the U.S. embassy in anticipation of a visit by Rice to Cairo. A translated copy was sent by diplomatic cable (see below) to Rice by Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr., the U.S. ambassador to Egypt.
In the letter Nour reminded Rice that he had met her in 2005 when she gave a lecture at the American University in Cairo on democracy. He also noted that President Bush had claimed to the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. government had made a request to Mubarak to pardon Nour.
Nour opened with a moving plea to Condoleeza Rice: “From behind thick bars and a place beyond the sun’s reach, I welcome you. (B)ecause I am not in a position to present a flower bouquet with this welcome, as a token of friendship, I will attempt to present old and new quotes which will bear what I wish flowers would have borne and expressed.”
Nour went on to relate three anecdotes to explain the consequences of the U.S. ignoring Egypt. The first, an apocryphal tale from a Russian diplomat, suggests that Americans would not rescue a drowning man.
The second recalled Egyptian history: “The shouts of Egyptians during March and April 1919, when the first civic revolution in modern Egyptian history broke out, and the Egyptian masses were shouting for the life of two people — the first, the banished leader of the Egyptian revolution Saad Zaghloul, and the second, President Wilson who elaborated the Twelve Principles (sic), the most important of which was the right to self-determination. The second scene is the same masses shouting against Wilson when he acknowledged the British mandate in Egypt.”
In the third anecdote, Nour quotes Mostafa Amin, Egypt’s most famous columnist and journalist, who wrote in his book “Laughing America” the following: “The American loves speed, and that is the secret behind the alliance between American policy and dictatorships, but what it gains quickly, it loses quicker, for America ) despite its love for speed – is in the habit of missing the train, but then it notices and it runs after the train, it even buys a car especially for that purpose, but that does not help, so it buys a plane, and just like that it pays the price of the train doubled!”
“Maybe America gains a lot when it exports to us arms and cars or planes, but it loses more when it does not export the best that its civilization has produced which is ’Freedom and Democracy and Human Rights.’ The value of America is that it should defend this product, not only in its country but throughout the world! It may harm some of its interests, but it will make gains that will live hundreds of years, for the friendship of peoples live forever, because the peoples do not die, but governments change like the winter weather.”
Rice never publicly asked the Egyptian government to pardon or release Nour in 2006. Subsequently Nour stated from prison: “I pay the price when [Rice] speaks [of me], and I pay the price when she doesn’t. But what’s happening to me now is a message to everybody.” Nour was finally released on health grounds on 18 February 2009.
Nour was injured and hospitalized in the first wave of demonstrations last week. On Sunday he returned to work with other opposition leaders to discuss the formation on a coalition government. The next few hours will tell if President Obama and Secretary of State will hear his new request for support or follow the example of the Bush administration and remain silent.
Source: Peoples do not die, but governments change like the winter weather | By Richard Smallteacher | Wikileaks 1 February 2011
Reference ID: 06CAIRO6171
Created: 2006-10-02 15:03
Origin: Embassy Cairo
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHEG #6171/01 2751555
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 021555Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH IMMEDIATE 0206
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1781
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 CAIRO 006171
JEDDAH FOR THE SECRETARY’S TRAVELING PARTY, NEA A/S WELCH,
AND NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR MIKE DORAN; NSC FOR RICK WATERS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM EG
SUBJECT: AYMAN NOUR REQUESTS THE SECRETARY PUSH GOE FOR AN
OCTOBER 6 AMNESTY
REF: CAIRO 6105
Classified By: Minister Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs
William R. Stewart, for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).
¶1. (C) Summary: In a letter to the Secretary, imprisoned Al Ghad Party leader Ayman Nour requests that during her upcoming visit to Cairo, the Secretary advocate for his release as part of the traditional prisoner amnesty granted by President Mubarak on the October 6 national holiday. He notes his hope to be granted clemency by President Mubarak under constitutional Article 149, under which Mubarak could exempt Nour from the lengthy ban on political activities that would otherwise be in force following a release from prison. In an October 1 meeting, Gameela Ismail (Nour’s wife) told poloff that, while Nour would prefer to be pardoned under Article 149, he would not turn down a health-based amnesty (as some in the GOE have alleged). End
¶2. (C) In an October 1 meeting, poloff queried Gameela Ismail about Nour’s willingness to accept a health-based pardon, versus amnesty granted by President Mubarak under constitutional Article 149. (Note: As reported reftel, with amnesty under Article 149, Nour could potentially be exempted from a ban on political activities that will otherwise be in place following his release. End Note). Ayman Qaffas, the new State Information Service chief (and son-in-law of EGIS director Omar Soliman), had alleged to Ambassador on September 28 that Nour refused to sign a petition for clemency based on his poor health. Ismail denied that claim, and asserted that just the opposite has occurred ) over the past few months, Nour’s lawyer has reportedly filed three separate health-based pardon requests, at Nour,s urging, to President Mubarak, the Prosecutor-General, and the Tora Prison doctor (the three officials who reportedly have the right to grant such a pardon). Ismail noted that, while “of course” Nour would prefer a full pardon under Article 149, to include a provision for him to continue his political activities upon his release, he would still “most definitely” accept a pardon based on his poor health, or any other basis.
¶3. (C) Ismail said that the “Committee for Forensic Medicine” (under the Prosecutor-General’s Office) had visited Nour a month ago, in response to his request for a health-based pardon. They reportedly did not conduct a medical exam during their visit ) “just spoke to him for 5 minutes” ) and Nour subsequently sent a complaint to the Prosecutor-General about the lack of a rigorous medical check. The Prosecutor-General agreed to send the committee to Tora Prison again; the new exam is scheduled for October 5. Nour and Ismail are hopeful that Nour might be released on the October 6 national holiday (when the President traditionally grants many prisoners amnesty).
¶4. (C) Ismail gave poloff a letter from Nour to the Secretary (text of Embassy translation at para 6), in which he requests the Secretary advocate for his release (under constitutional Article 149) as part of the October 6 prisoner amnesty. Ismail visited Nour on September 30, and told poloff that he asked Ismail to seek a meeting with the Secretary during her visit to Cairo. Ismail said, after “serious deliberation,” she has chosen not to do so, because she is afraid that such a meeting, which would inevitably become public, would be more harmful than helpful.
¶5. (C) Poloff reiterated to Ismail the Ambassador’s standing invitation to meet. Ismail said that she would like to meet with the Ambassador after Ramadan (Note: She and Nour are hopeful that he might get released with other prisoners on October 6 or during an end of Ramadan prisoner release; she is concerned about meeting with the Secretary or Ambassador prior to those dates, in case it might upset the possibility of his getting a holiday pardon).
¶6. (C) Begin text of Embassy translation of Nour letter:
Madam Doctor –
From behind thick bars and a place beyond the sun’s reach, I welcome you.
I do not know whether or not I will be able to smuggle this letter to you before the date of your arrival in Cairo. And I do not know that if I succeed it will reach you. All I hope for is that my lines, which I fill with a welcome to you to Cairo, reach you. And because I am not in a position to
CAIRO 00006171 002 OF 004
present a flower bouquet with this welcome, as a token of friendship, I will attempt to present old and new quotes which will bear what I wish flowers would have borne and expressed.
Quote 1:(1300 BC), Source: An old Egyptian papyrus that dates back to 1300 BC and is in the British Museum under the number 10060. In it, the son of the God Ra,a says: “I am a prince, son of a prince, the seed of my father must spawn a God. I am the oldest, son of the oldest, I shall cross to my father’s kingdom and all of your tears will be the sea, the waves of which will carry me to the throne of my father Ra,a!8
Quote 2: (March 1919), Source: The shouts of Egyptians during March and April 1919, when the first civic revolution in modern Egyptian history broke out, and the Egyptian masses were shouting for the life of two people — the first, the banished leader of the Egyptian revolution Saad Zaghloul, and the second, President Wilson who elaborated the Twelve Principles (sic), the most important of which was the right to self-determination. The second scene is the same masses shouting against Wilson when he acknowledged the British mandate in Egypt.
Quote 3: (1953), Source: A paragraph in a book by a famous writer that President Nasser imprisoned for years on the pretext that he had relations with one of the U.S. State Department’s employees, and he remained a prisoner till President Sadat granted him amnesty. Mostafa Amin says in his book “Laughing America” edition of 1953, page 13:
“The American loves speed, and that is the secret behind the alliance between American policy and dictatorships, but what it gains quickly, it loses quicker, for America ) despite its love for speed – is in the habit of missing the train, but then it notices and it runs after the train, it even buys a car especially for that purpose, but that does not help, so it buys a plane, and just like that it pays the price of the train doubled! Maybe America gains a lot when it exports to us arms and cars or planes, but it loses more when it does not export the best that its civilization has produced which is ‘Freedom and Democracy and Human Rights.’ The value of America is that it should defend this product, not only in its country but throughout the world! It may harm some of its interests, but it will make gains that will live hundreds of years, for the friendship of peoples live forever, because the peoples do not die, but governments change like the winter weather.
Quote 4:(1992), Source: An anecdote that my professor Dr. Vitali Naokeen told in Moscow, at the Orientalism Institution. He said to me, “Do you know that if you drown in an ocean and you are surrounded by a group of friends, and the first is Russian, the second is American, the third is English, the fourth is French, the fifth is German, and the sixth is Japanese – what would each of them do for you? The Russian will jump after you to rescue you, but you have to know that he does not know how to swim, so he will die before you; the French will scream condemning the American’s position, but that of course will not rescue you; the German will swim to you bravely but he might come back without rescuing you, claiming that you might be Jewish. The Briton will yell: ‘Wait, our American allies will come to rescue you immediately!, As for the Japanese, he will not pay you any attention, but will think of how to help your children. The American will be very sorry about the incident. But the American being sorry for the drowning of a dear friend will not help you in the bottom of the ocean and will not help your children after you,.8
Quote 5: (2005), Source: A meeting with your Excellency at the Cairo Airport Sheraton, during the first half of 2005 after the famous American University in Cairo lecture you delivered during your visit to Cairo. And I remember that described the political reforms -that ‘he’ declared- as a ‘pseudopregnancy’ and that opening the door for nominations to the Presidential elections, only means that these revolving doors would hit us in the face if we try to enter or pass.
Quote 6: (December 2005), Source: An article by the renowned American writer Jackson Diehl, dated December 13, under the headline “Mubarak Outdoes Himself,” where he wrote, “with what Mubarak did to his competitor Ayman Nour and the strongest competitor to his son, he wanted to crush liberal opposition ) the strength of which began to show this year -
CAIRO 00006171 003 OF 004
and to finish the future of liberal reformers, to confront the U.S. with a choice between continuing his rule and then that of his son or that of a fundamentalist Islamic movement.” This article was published a only few days before I was imprisoned.
Quote 7: (September 2006), Source: President Bush,s recent Wall Street Journal interview where he revealed that he talked to Gamal Mubarak about the issue of releasing Ayman Nour and expects a decree to be issued by President Mubarak in this regard.
The Final Quote: (September 21, 2006), Source: President Mubarak,s closing speech during the National Democratic Party conference, announcing that “we do not accept foreign intervention in domestic affairs.”
Also, the President and his son refused to answer the request by 110 members of the Egyptian Parliament, to act in accordance with Article 149 of the constitution and grant full amnesty to Ayman Nour to suspend his penalty of prison, and nullify the additional penalty of banning him from being nominated for office for 17 complete years (which means till December 2032).
Gracious Doctor, when you refused to come to Cairo in February 2005, you said that you refuse to come to Cairo as a “planting priest” (sic). And the expression surprised me at the time, but it inspired me to put before you now while you are in Cairo this bouquet of different quotes from different times and eras, and maybe it says what the jail and the jailer are trying to prevent from reaching you and all those who are free or call for freedom in the world.
Dear Madam, what makes me take this risk which involves many threats that can aggravate my dilemma, is not just concern for my threatened life, or my family that is deprived of its sole breadwinner, and not even my party which was the last civil hope for democratic reform and is now endangered with more problems to finish it off and strangle it financially and legally. But my goal is to save the remaining hope in the eyes of those who call for reform in this homeland. After despair of the future seized them, as the regime managed to intimidate them with what happened to me and frustrate them with its inattention to the reactions and its ability to surmount them by reiterating that interests always triumph over principles. And it (the regime) has the skill of manipulation and mixing cards and stalling for time and imposing a fait accompli; I faced a ludicrous and fabricated charge and was referred to a specific judge, and the trial was a legal and moral farce that the world witnessed and embassies, representatives followed-up, as the chapters of the trial focused on accusing them of being agents and receiving millions of dollars from America, which is of course completely untrue, but also far removed from a public
accusation. That is the forgery!
A sentence of 5 years imprisonment was issued, but the more shocking surprise is that this sentence bans me for 12 years afterwards from practicing a professional career as a lawyer or journalist, and from political and partisan work, which means that until 2023 I will have no rights.
This sentence and its consequences are unavoidable unless a Presidential Amnesty is granted under Article 149 of the constitution. Nobody other than the President can exercise this right, which 110 Parliamentarians asked President Mubarak weeks ago to do, but he ignored the request and has not answered it thus far.
I would like to emphasize that my life is now in great danger because of the conditions in my prison, and specifically the harsh conditions that have been inflicted upon me, and my being handcuffed for intervals that amount to 13 hours a day, not to mention denying me all my legal rights to write, correspond or even move, to the point that I now have rheumatism due to my lack of mobility and my diabetes is getting worse, and my heart arteries are clogged in light of the government denying me appropriate medical treatment, and my undergoing any operation and even denying me ‘civil’ food.
On October 6, after 48 hours, President Mubarak will issue ) on the occasion of the October War and the start of his rule – amnesty for thousands of prisoners, and so far I am not one of them. And based on my request and that of the 110 parliamentarians, a doctor from the Ministry of Justice will come to my prison on the morning of October 5 (just a few
CAIRO 00006171 004 OF 004
hours before the President’s decision on amnesty is announced) to examine me, and of course if there are no specific instructions or a decision by President Mubarak, there will not be any new developments regarding my case on October 5 or 6.
Asking that the President issue an amnesty decree regarding my case, on October 6, together with the thousands of criminal prisoners expected to be released then is an urgent request at this time. And it is the means to alleviate the consequences of my sentence, in that it suspends my political rights until 2023, for what is taking place now is a lawless execution or a bloodless murder and an elimination and a punishment to provide an example for anyone who even thinks of being a substitute or an honorable competitor in Egyptian politics.
We stand before a final sentence, there is no road that they have not closed, and we have no other way forward except a presidential amnesty in accordance with the constitution. And after over a year of my imprisonment, there is no longer a point in talking about a right time and/or conducive circumstances, for the judiciary that is still asking for its independence has nothing to do with the issue now, and granting amnesty bears no suspicion of interfering in the affairs of the judiciary which ceased to be tied to the sentence after issuing it and there is nothing left except putting the constitution into effect; the constitution which endowed the President to grant this amnesty.
Thank you very much in advance for the sincere efforts you exert.
Dr. Ayman Nour
Tora Ranch General Prison
September 30, 7 Ramadan