Egypt to probe Al-Ahram staff who 'sold archives to Israel'

Egypt to investigate Al-Ahram employees who 'sold archives to Israel'
2 min read
03 December, 2021
Two former Al-Ahram employees, including a former chairman, will be investigated by the Egyptian public prosecution after widespread anger at Israel's acquisition of the prestigious newspaper's archives.
The two former Al-Ahram employees will be investigated for corruption [Getty-file photo]

Two men accused of selling the archives of Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper to Israel have been referred to the Egyptian prosecution, a journalists' syndicate member said Thursday.

The public prosecution will investigate the former employees - Omar Mahmoud Sami, who served as the chairman of the Al-Ahram Management Committee in 2014, and Hatem Hazaa - on charges of “corruption which led to the sale of the Al-Ahram archive and its indirect acquirement by the Zionist entity”, Egyptian Journalists Syndicate Council member Mohammed Kamel told reporters.

Kamel told reporters that he had "presented all documents relating to this case to the investigation authorities" adding that "the investigation may also result in the prosecution and punishment of others in this case".

Israel’s foreign ministry announced last month that the country’s national library in Jerusalem had launched a digital archive of Al-Ahram newspaper, a move that caused widespread anger among Egyptian journalists and sections of the public who oppose normalisation with Israel.

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When news of Israel's acquisition of the archive originally surfaced, Mohamed Kamel described the event as a “crime”, telling Facebook followers that an American mediator bought the archive almost a decade ago in suspicious circumstances: “Trusted sources and colleagues at Al-Ahram Foundation have informed me that eight years ago… the acting chairman of the Al-Ahram foundation Omar Mahmoud Sami sold the archive to an American company ‘East View’ for $180,000".

“And to make matters worse, the deal was not even signed by the American company and the amount not paid into Al-Ahram’s accounts until this day. There are no words to describe this [deal] except treason to the profession and to the homeland”, he said.

East View Information Services is a US-based company which acquires and sells information products, including foreign-language newspapers, to leading universities and research centres.

Bryan Benilous, Director of East View’s Newspaper Products Division, told The New Arab that reporting on the case had been “mostly false” but refused to comment any further on the allegations of corporate malpractice, citing a non-disclosure company policy. 

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has not yet disclosed how or from whom it acquired the archive, however, the post announcing the acquisition contained an image of East View’s company logo.