Egyptian news group denies Brotherhood links after asset freeze

Egyptian news group denies Brotherhood links after asset freeze
3 min read
15 December, 2016
An Egyptian judicial committee tasked with monitoring the Muslim Brotherhood's assets has frozen funds and accounts belonging to a leading Cairo-based news group over alleged links to the banned group.
Sisi had written in the Daily News Egypt in 2014 and 2015 [AFP]

The chairperson of a leading news group in Egypt has denied belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood after authorities froze his company's assets over alleged links to the banned group.

Mostafa Sakr's company Business News, which has been operating in Egypt since 2008, owns Daily News Egypt, the country's only independent English daily newspaper, and al-Borsa, an Arabic financial newspaper.

His personal assets and bank accounts were also affected by the decision, which was made by a judicial committee tasked with freezing the assets of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The justice ministry formed the committee in 2013, after a Cairo court declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, banning its activities and ordering the confiscation of its capital, as well as freezing the assets of its members and any affiliated entities.

This came shortly after Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by a military coup led by current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was defence minister at the time.

Since then, a police crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood has left hundreds dead and thousands jailed.

In a statement published by Daily News Egypt, Business News denied belonging to any political or religious groups and said it was "startled" to learn about the decision, and confirmed its legal representative had filed an appeal against it.

"[The company] stresses that it finances its activities through its capital and advertisement revenues, and has not received any financing from local or foreign parties," the statement read.

"The damage to the institution's finances and reputation that would occur to it as a result [of the decision] threatens institutions practising their work legally and with integrity," it added.

The damage to the institution's finances and reputation that would occur to it as a result [of the decision] threatens institutions practising their work legally and with integrity.
- Business News

"This affects the investment climate and restricts all the efforts made to motivate investors to reinvigorate the economy."

Sisi had written in the Daily News Egypt in 2014 and 2015 encouraging foreign investment and addressing economic reform in the country.

In August, the committee froze Morsi's assets, along with over 100 Brotherhood prominent figures, including former supreme guide Mohamed Badie, former parliament speaker Saad al-Katatny, as well as Khairat al-Shater, Essam al-Erian, Mohamed al-Beltagy, and others.

Another public figure whose assets were frozen on suspicion of financing the Muslim Brotherhood was former football star Mohamed Aboutrika, who had publicly endorsed Morsi's presidential bid in 2012.

However, the verdict against Aboutrika was reversed in June 2016, as administrative courts issued several rulings cancelling the committee's decision to freeze the group's assets.