On December 4, t he Mukameleen satellite channel (open link: http://www.mekameleen.tv/) released 6 audio leaks (all links listed below) involving conversations between members of the Egyptian junta, which appear to reveal the illegality of Morsi’s detention after he was ousted in July 2013.
The contents of the audio recordings (31 minutes in total) involve the military rulers of Egypt, including General Abdel-Fattah Sisi, conspiring , falsifying evidence, forging documents, and admitting to criminal behavior on tape, while acknowledging that the fabricated case against Morsi was legally void. Opposition leader Ayman Noor told Al Jazeera from his exile in Lebanon that the tapes are authentic because he knew the players and easily identified their voices.
“This recording, if confirmed, reveals the full extent of the military regime’s deception,” said Tayab Ali, partner at ITN Solicitors in London and a member of Morsi’s legal team, in a statement released late Friday. “My clients have always maintained that there was no lawful basis for the coup or the subsequent steps taken against the [Freedom and Justice Party] and its members… It is imperative that an independent investigation takes place as a matter of urgency in order to determine whether there was a conspiracy of the nature detailed in these recordings to overthrow Egypt’s first elected civilian,” Ali said in the statement. “The Egyptian prosecutor should release President Morsi immediately.”
Besides Sisi, the other members of the junta implicated on the tapes are General Mamdouh Shahin, legal advisor to Sisi, General Abbas Kamel, Sisi’s chief aide and office manager, General Mohammad Ibrahim, the interior minister, General Osama El-Gindy, chief of naval forces, and General Mahmoud Hegazi, head of military intelligence, who was later promoted to army chief of staff. Most significantly in the tapes, General Shahin describes the conspiratorial role of the chief General Prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, and his aides, including Mustafa Khater and Ibrahim Saleh, leading the prosecution teams against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.
They key problem faced by the junta conspirators is that Morsi’s defense team had challenged the basis for the president’s initial incarceration and petitioned the presiding judges to dismiss all charges against him under the pretext that he was kidnapped by the military without proper charge. According to Egyptian law, if the defense team was able to prove that Morsi was illegally detained, he would have to be released, which would lead to his declaration that he was the legitimately-elected president of Egypt. During the first minute of the recording, Gen. Shahin is heard telling Sisi’s office manager, Gen. Kamel, that General Prosecutor Barakat was panicking, and that he had sent him his three leading prosecutors (including Khater and Saleh) to find a way of “fixing” this problem.
During an earlier court session, government prosecutors had falsely told the judges that Morsi had never been kidnapped and had always been in the custody of the interior ministry, even though he was actually being held in a hangar at a military barracks at Abu Qir naval base near Alexandria. Shahin then told Kamel that they needed to provide the prosecutors with “an order of arrest of Morsi signed by interior minister Gen. Ibrahim that must be backdated to the day of the coup.” Shahin then called Ibrahim (min. 2-3) and asked for such a forged legal document to be signed by the interior minister. He also asked Ibrahim to make sure that the order was “printed in the official government records” so the order would appear to be legitimate, adding extraordinarily “as we used to do so during the days of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces” – when SCAF issued backdated laws during the military rule in the aftermath of Mubarak’s ouster. On tape Ibrahim is heard readily agreeing, and requesting that Shahin provide him with details to be included in the order including, the address and description of the detention facility.
Shahin and Kamel then calls General El-Gindy, the chief of the naval forces who commanded the naval base where Morsi was detained for several weeks before he was officially charged and transferred to an interior ministry prison. In the next few minutes (starting at min. 5) Shahin tries to convince General El-Gindy to turn over the hangar at which Morsi was held over to the interior ministry, to be registered as an official prison for a month until the end of Morsi’s trial.
When El-Gindy asked why they could not use an existing prison facility and claim that it had been the facility used for Morsi’s initial incarceration, Shahin said that this would not work because there was an official report on record written by investigative judge Hasan Samir that gave a detailed description of Morsi’s detention facility that would not match any existing prison under the control of the interior ministry. In one instance Shahin warns (min. 9-11) that unless the prosecutors overcome this issue in court “the espionage charges and the Ittihadiyya (presidential palace) murder case (against Morsi) would collapse.”
Shahin then states that they would have to plan for a worst-case scenario, where the defense team would request a physical inspection of the detention facility that the judges would have to grant. In such a case, the detention facility must belong officially to the prison system of the interior ministry, and must match the description that was already record. However, Gen. El-Gindy is sceptical, and says he could not transform just any building in the naval base into a stand-alone prison to turn over to the interior ministry. Nevertheless, he promises to see what he can do.
In the next audio recording Shahin and Gen. Kamel call military intelligence chief Gen. Hegazi (min. 13) to seek his support in getting El-Gindy to cooperate on this crucial matter. Hegazi is frustrated and complains of the lack of decent legal counsel in the army and says that is also the reason why the military is now “collecting corpses” on the streets. Astonishingly, Shahin, who is supposed to be Sisi’s legal advisor, answers that “there is no one here (i.e. in the army) who is qualified in law to give legal advice.” Furthermore, he says that interior minister Ibrahim had already agreed to sign the order anyway and backdate it in order to “give the prosecutors the documents they need.” Hegazi then suggests that they convert a hangar on the naval base “which the army engineers could execute in 72 hours”. He adds: “they could build a separate gate, fence it, put a sign on it and turn it over to the interior ministry as a prison facility.” Shahin is delighted with this since the prosecutors had told him that he had 15 days to address the matter.
Hegazi then calls El-Gindy in the presence of Shahin (min. 18) and asks if it would be possible to build a hangar similar to the detention facility that had housed Morsi during his initial incarceration. El-Gindy agrees to do this since Kamel, as Sisi’s staff manager, informs him (min. 20) that Sisi had said that, “no cost should be spared because it is important to do it absolutely right.” He then adds that Sisi had instructed the interior ministry “to take over the new detention facility as if they had been occupying for the last 100 years.”
In the next recording, Shahin tells Kamel that all the falsified documents are now ready and comments that Kamel “should not worry about the quality of the forgeries”, and that no one would be able to challenge them in court. Kamel then instructs him to make sure that “all the prison records are also doctored including the registration of Morsi as a prisoner held on criminal charges at the time.” Shahin then states (min. 21) that the General Prosecutor Barakat is now “very, very, very happy with this new outcome, as he had been under great stress because of this problem.”
Shahin and Kamel then joke that the new hangar would soon be ready for inspection by Morsi’s defense team. Kamel suggests (min. 22) that they make the detention facility so authentic as to also include a “torture room” and show how prisoners “are hanged from their feet.” Shahin then jokingly responded: “whatever you like… forgery and stage-management is our forte.” Kamel then comments on the Muslim Brotherhood, saying “the bastards can never win… we can never let them gloat over us.”
In the following recording we have Sisi on tape (min. 22:20) stating that he had just finished a meeting with Interior Minister Ibrahim, and he asks Shahin if he had completed the task at hand, to which Shahin responds that he had indeed, and that it had been tough. Sisi responds, “It was indeed a very difficult problem.”
In the next recording, Gens. Kamel, Shahin, and El-Gindy are all heard discussing the newly built hangar/mock-prison facility (min. 23-31) at the Abu Qir naval base. When El-Gindy states that the facility was now ready to be turned over to the interior ministry to become Morsi’s new jail, Shahin oddly intimates, “It’s ready for us” (i.e. to be their prison when military rule is overturned). El-Gindy responds extraordinarily by saying that it was unsuitable for them since it was only a 3-star rather than a 7-star facility (min. 23). El-Gindy then proceeds to say that the new facility matched the one where Morsi was detained in all its details including “chairs, beds, appliances, refrigerators, washers, and the garage.” He then adds, “It’s the same as the original from A to Z – even the sports equipment is the same. We even left the newspapers of that period in the cells.”
Kamel then jokingly comments (min. 25) that such immaculate detail “will drive the man (Morsi) crazy.” Shahin then says (min. 26) that he has arranged with the head of the prison system to send 3 or 4 other prisoners there to create the impression that the facility had always been in use.” When the prisons chief asked why not house more prisoners there Shahin responds negatively fearing that involving too many people will expose their ploy. Kamel then says that he will inform interior minister Ibrahim “to send his security people to take over the facility” and that there is “a tacit agreement (with the prosecutors) to receive an early warning before an actual inspection takes place” in order to get the facility “ready.” He then assures them that the prison guards would have already been “briefed and trained” so as not to be uncovered. Finally, Shahin gives instructions that “all the records must be properly cooked with correct historical dates and names of visitors, including the visits by the African leaders (to Morsi in his early days of detention) as well as by a delegation from Egypt’s human rights organization, etc.” Kamel then assured them that “Lt. Gen. Tariq has been working on this with interior ministry officials.”