The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

More on Nour's arrest

I spoke to Ayman Nour's wife, Gameela Ismail (who is a journalist and in charge of public relations for Hizb Al Ghad) tonight. She told me that the case against her husband was expedited with highly unusual alacrity, on a day that would normally have been a holiday. State Security notified the Prosecutor General of an investigation and charges against Nour on Friday the 28th. The Prosecutor General in turn informed the Minister of Justice, and the Head of Parliament was notified late that same night upon his return to Egypt from abroad. By early Saturday morning, Parliament was convened and Nour was told to come because they were discussing lifting his immunity. By 10:30 am immunity had been lifted, and outside Parliament he was arrested by state security forces (on charges of forging powers of attorney for 1100 or so founding members he represented).

Ismail says that in the course of a six hour house search, police removed papers, documents, checkbooks, computers, CDs, videotapes, and medicines from the Nour residence. They also gathered documents from Nour’s office, including all the legal files of his clients (Nour works as a lawyer). After her husband’s arrest, says Ismail, he was taken to the High State Prosecution in Heliopolis. He was questioned from 8 pm to 6:30 am on Saturday night, says Ismail, who spoke to him briefly in the morning.

Speculation as to causes that might have triggered the government to move against Nour abounds (as you've seen from Josh's post). Ismail has her own theory: “It’s all a dirty political conspiracy by which they want to stop him attending the dialogue of the opposition. He presented an advisory last week to the head of the Shura Council asking for equivalency between the different parties�—meaning that the secretary general of the NDP would meet with the secretary generals of each party, and the presidents of opposition parties would meet only with the president of the NDP...that is President Hosni Mubarak himself. Nour also requested that the session be open and covered by the press and the media.

Nour is supposed to be in for four days of questioning, so maybe we'll hear from him by Wednesday.