The Cairo Criminal Court released on Thursday former chief of the disbanded State Security Investigation Services Hassan Abdel Rahman, who is accused of destroying security documents in the wake of the January 2011 uprising.
The Thursday session was the first in the trial of Abdel Rahman and 44 other agency officials.
During the Thursday session, defense lawyers demanded a media gag for the case, arguing that it involves sensitive national security information. The court adjourned the trial to 10 November.
The judge appointed by the Justice Ministry to supervise the case accused the defendants on 26 June of intentionally terminating the agency’s archives and, therefore, denying the state information that was crucial to national security.
Abdel Rahman, until his release, had been the only defendant in custody.
Abdel Rahman denied the charges during prior investigations, and said he only ordered the burning of documents categorized as “highly classified,” claiming that he feared that they would be seized, which would jeopardize state security.
He added that some of the information contained in the destroyed documents still exist on CDs.
In March 2011, hundreds of civilians broke into the SSIS facilities in Cairo and other governorates following reports that its officers had been disposing of documents believed to provide evidence of its corrupt practices.
Some citizens seized a number of documents and handed them over to investigators.
The SSIS, which had been Egypt’s much-feared and most-hated security agency, was one tool used by Mubarak’s regime to suppress political activism. The agency was accused of torturing political detainees.
Former Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy disbanded the agency in March 2011.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm