Fake news watch: Suez sale speculation sunk

A helicopter flies overhead as tractors and dredgers work on Egypt’s New Suez Canal. (Reuters)
Updated 07 May 2019

Fake news watch: Suez sale speculation sunk

  • The Egyptian government has denied the existence of any plan to privatize the Suez Canal, stressing the importance of the waterway, which is considered a source of national income
  • The Egyptian Attorney General’s Office denied reports of the existence of secret prisons in the country, stressing that legal guarantees exist to ensure the conduct of investigations and fair trials

A weekly round-up of bogus reports and phony facts in the mainstream and social media.

1. Privatization of the Suez Canal rumors dismissed by Egyptian government
The Egyptian government has denied the existence of any plan to privatize the Suez Canal, stressing the importance of the waterway, which is considered a source of national income, Al Rai newspaper reported.
The media center of the Egyptian cabinet confirmed in a statement the unreliability of such “rumors” aimed at provoking the anger of the Egyptian people, adding there are no plans to privatize the channel to finance the “new administrative capital” being built in the country.
The Suez Canal plays an important role in global trade movement and there has been an increase in the number and load of ships passing through the channel, which “reflected positively on the increase of revenues,” the center added.
The center called on the media and social media users to be “accurate before publishing such rumors, which may lead to confusion of public opinion and anger citizens.”

2. Egyptian Attorney General said secret prisons do not exist
The Egyptian Attorney General’s Office denied reports of the existence of secret prisons in the country, stressing that legal guarantees exist to ensure the conduct of investigations and fair trials of the accused.
This came during the meetings of the 64th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, held in the resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt Today reported.
Councilor Hany George, head of the General Directorate of Human Rights in the Attorney General’s Office, said that the general prosecution is fully ready to check any allegations of enforced disappearance.


Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Updated 20 February 2020

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.