Egypt State Information Service (SIS)
Statement by SIS refuting lies propagated by BBC
Sunday، 25 February 2018 - 02:59 PM
The State Information Service (SIS) issued a statement in response to the report released by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and written by Orla Guerin, the former BBC correspondent in Cairo.
The SIS statement refuted the BBC report that was published and broadcast on the BBC website and TV Channel over the last two days; a report that was flagrantly fraught with lies and allegations as regards many issues, namely political and social status in Egypt, conditions in prisons, human rights, among others. The SIS statement disclosed the BBC report’s horrifying amount of contradictions, alarming visible non-neutrality and blatant violation of media standards that the BBC is supposed to be on top of media corporations adhering to.
Chairman of the State Information Service, Mr. Diaa Rashwan, decided that the head of the BBC office in Egypt would be summoned to receive an official letter as regards the remarks and response prepared by the SIS; acting as an official request addressed to the BBC to urgently and promptly take all procedures and steps and adopt an unmistakable and clear position to address the flagrant professional violations of its correspondent.
Below is the transcript of SIS Statement:
First: Remarks on Sources
- Despite the photos and video shots the report contained for the so-called “Zubeida”, the girl who was allegedly a victim of enforced disappearance, for her mother and for their house, the report did not refer to any data or information on the status of the so-called “Zubeida” so as to be able to follow-up on the developments of her case. This clearly casts shadows of doubt as regards the real intentions of the report writer who seemed to have many objectives; however; alarmingly enough, none of these objectives was to hold those responsible about what the so-called “Zubeida” allegedly faced accountable for whatsoever violations they allegedly committed. It is quite impossible to follow-up on the case and its developments without any information available; henceforth, the SIS called the BBC former correspondent twice from the SIS phone numbers she already recognizes as a resident correspondent in Cairo who has become undoubtedly familiar with all these numbers, but the SIS received no answer.
- The report stated that the details of the alleged “second enforced disappearance” of the so-called “Zubeida” were narrated by her mother who was not personally present at the location where her daughter allegedly faced enforced disappearance but she got the details from whom she called “neighbors” without identifying them; the report writer who was supposed to weave the threads of her report relying on facts did not bother herself to look for those “neighbors” as called by the mother, being, according to the mother’s story, the eye-witnesses to what the so-called “Zubeida” allegedly faced; the report writer seems to have found no need to try to listen directly to their testimony and make sure of the accuracy of the mother’s story. In addition, the report writer quoted the mother as referring to the alleged neighbors who used the term “armed masked men” to refer to those who allegedly took “Zubeida” away; the report writer’s use of this term discloses a crystal-clear intention to point an accusing finger at the police without a single evidence. Two evidences confirm the report writer’s deliberate intention towards the police as follows:
1- Talking about the existence of “armed masked people” in Egypt is sheer fraud except for the police Special Forces who must wear a special formal uniform, the same as police Special Forces all over the world; however, the report did not make a single reference to such forces or to their special uniform.
2- The mother claimed that one of the relatives of the so-called “Zubeida” received a phone call from her after being allegedly “kidnapped” and heard an officer insulting her and then the phone was switched off, according to the story of the alleged relative as quoted by the mother and referred to by the report writer; It is not within the knowledge of the SIS that there is a known technique in the world to enable anyone to identify the speaker’s profession as soon as one hears his voice unless the report writer and the mother have this technique that humanity has not been introduced to so far.
- The report writer relied on unknown sources that she referred to as “lawyers, human rights campaigners and former prisoners” without bothering herself even once to identify any of them in spite of the serious claims quoted by them as alleging that “torture is a must” and a “routine” in Egyptian prisons.
- The report writer referred to another allegation by another unknown source whom she referred to as “another young man” who claimed that he was prone to torture and rape; without disclosing his identity or his name, the writer deemed his allegations as “credible”, claiming that keeping his identity secret is upon his request; this clearly casts heavy shadows of doubts as regards the credibility of the whole story.
- Although the writer referred to whom she called “activists” without identifying any of them, she relied on their repetitive allegations that there are cases of “enforced disappearance” in Egypt and that most of them faced torture before being accused of terrorism.
- The writer relied on what a group she described as “critics” said about the President of the Republic accusing him of launching an unprecedented assault on human rights; she relied on the accounts they provided without identifying any of them.
- In one of the most serious allegations made by the writer within the scope of her report as regards human rights in Egypt, she relied on what she called “the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms” and on Mohamed Lotfi, one of its leaders. In reality, this is a political organization affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood under the guise of “safeguarding human rights”. Established in 2014, this organization is the Egyptian branch of the “World Coordination for Rights and Freedoms” that was founded in Doha on October 9, 2013 according to one of the resolutions of the so called international conference “The World under Coup against Peoples’ Will” that was held in Istanbul On September 25-26, 2013.
Second: Remarks on Contradictions
The report is teeming with contradictions that came as an expected result of the writer’s biased position to draw a distorted image of the situation in Egypt. The writer’s biased attitude was manifested in a number of points, most notable of which are:
- While describing the events Egypt witnessed in 2013, the writer got trapped in using contradictory descriptions; while the writer once stated that millions of Egyptians demanded Morsi’s removal, she later described his removal as a “coup”, and astonishingly in the same sentence, she happened to contradict herself by saying that this “coup” had “mass support”.
- In one of the report’s paragraphs, the writer alleged that she was once threatened to be shot by the police if she did not stop filming; in the following paragraph, she admitted that she was detained in a police station and then she was released in spite of the fact that she was filming an interview with the wife of one of the terrorists who was killed in confrontations with the police at Rabaa sit-in. In her words, the report writer confirmed that she was released unharmed together with the wife of the terrorist. Furthermore, the documentary recently filmed by the BBC correspondent comes as unambiguous evidence that contradicts with her claims that press freedoms and human rights are suppressed in Egypt; the BBC correspondent moved freely in Egypt and had access to all locations she intended to shoot interior and exterior scenes in. In addition, she freely interviewed all the people, allegedly tracked by the security authorities, without being harmed or offended by anyone.
- While the report writer repetitively claimed that torture has become “a prison routine” in Egypt, she did not refer to such “claims” while talking about Alaa Abdel Fattah although she described him as “the icon of the 2011 revolution” which made him today, as claimed by the writer, “an enemy of the state”. Not a single word about being “tortured” or “abused” was mentioned by any of Alaa’s family members whom the report writer interviewed. Instead, the writer described Alaa’s wife while bringing him food parcels, fresh laundry and cigarettes during one of the visits she paid him at the prison. In the same context, the report writer ignored the significance of the positive message the security authorities sent as regards human rights considerations when they allowed both Alaa Abdel Fattah and his sister Mona Seif who were behind bars to be out of prison to attend the funeral of their father in 2014. In addition, the report writer ignored to refer to the ruling of the administrative court issued on February 20, 2018, legally binding Egypt’s Prison Authority to allow Alaa Abdel Fattah to receive books, newspapers and scientific periodicals in prison; the report writer did not refer to this ruling, which immediately came into effect, although it was issued two days before the release of her report, thus leaving no room to doubts that her allegations were sheer fraud either regarding the Egyptian judiciary or the treatment of the imprisoned.
Third: Remarks on Biased Attitudes
- As a clear evidence of the report writer’s biased attitudes and her pre-adopted position as regards the government in Egypt and her intention to fully distort it, the report writer clarified that her negative viewpoints about President El-Sisi were adopted even before the President assumed office in 2014; that got crystal clear when she quoted an alleged liberal activist saying that “President Al Sisi (sic) will be Pinochet of Egypt and he will build more jails”, a viewpoint that seems to be the writer’s personal opinion.
- Although the BBC correspondent spent four years in Egypt and became aware of all the details of the Egyptian scene on all levels, she deliberately narrowed the scope and focused only on some bleak scenes of poverty and misery that she presented to stand for Egypt as a whole; she saw nothing in Egypt except poverty and misery and so she did not refer to any other aspect of life even in places she lived in or in coffee shops she frequently visited to meet her sources.
Fourth: Remarks on Personal Impressions
The report writer opted to impose her personal impressions and biased viewpoints without searching for facts to rely on, thus strikingly violating the internationally-acknowledged professional norms and standards as well as violating the rules and regulations adopted by the BBC. Personal impressions were embodied in the following:
1- The report writer kept on reiterating false statements as claiming that “anyone who opposes the regime, or is suspected of doing so, whether rightly or wrongly, is at risk”.
2- The report writer alleged that “some activists stated that most of the disappeared are tortured before reappearing in custody weeks or months later, facing terrorism charges”; she didn’t refer to a single case that would confirm her allegations.
3- The writer continued bringing her biased negative personal viewpoints to the report by saying “anyone who challenges the official line can be detained for “spreading false news”, and adding that “It’s not the new Egypt many yearned for when they filled Tahrir Square”.