Top Egypt businessman Sawiris testifies at Al-Jazeera retrial

Updated 22 April 2015

Top Egypt businessman Sawiris testifies at Al-Jazeera retrial

CAIRO: One of Egypt’s wealthiest businessmen, Naguib Sawiris, testified for the defense on Wednesday at the retrial of two Al-Jazeera television journalists, possibly boosting their standing in a case criticized from abroad.
Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were sentenced last year to between 7 and 10 years in prison for aiding a “terrorist organization,” a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood which was ousted from power by the army in mid-2013.
Their colleague Peter Greste, an Australian who was sentenced with them, was freed and deported earlier this year. All three denied the charges. In January, a court ordered a retrial, citing procedural flaws.
Fahmy, a naturalized Canadian who gave up his Egyptian citizenship, said outside the court on Wednesday that he and Sawiris, a member of Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian community, had known each other “for a long time.”
Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed covered Egyptian politics, including the rise to power of the Brotherhood after the Arab Spring uprising which left Egypt polarized. In court, Sawiris, an outspoken critic of the Brotherhood, personally vouched for Fahmy, who spent over a year in prison before being freed in February.
“Mohamed Fahmy has no relation to the Muslim Brotherhood organization and he is not a Muslim Brother,” Sawiris said.
The 60-year-old businessman recently told Reuters that Egypt should pay closer attention to improving human rights once the economy picks up, an unusual statement for someone in Egypt’s top elite to make in public.
Sawiris told the court that a distinction should be made between journalists and the network that employ them.
“The correspondents will go out and record the news and then send it to someone else who is responsible for putting that together into the news that is broadcast,” he said.
“The organization, not the correspondent, is responsible for what is broadcast.”


Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

Updated 03 August 2020

Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

  • Nassif Hitti submits resignation to the prime minister and leaves government house without making any comments
  • Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Hassan Diab’s government

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s foreign minister resigned on Monday, becoming the first Cabinet minister to defect from his post amid the severe economic and financial crisis striking the country.
Minister Nassif Hitti’s submitted his resignation to the prime minister and left the government house without making any comments.
A career diplomat, Hitti became foreign minister in January as part of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government. He was was reportedly unhappy with the government’s performance and lack of movement on promised reforms.
Local media reports said he also was angered by Diab’s criticism of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following his visit to Beirut last month. Diab had said Le Drian “did not bring anything new” and was not properly informed about the reforms implemented by the Lebanese government.
It was not immediately clear whether his resignation would be accepted and whether one of the other ministers would assume his responsibilities in caretaker capacity until a new minister is appointed.
Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Diab’s government, which has struggled to implement reforms amid an unprecedented financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.