A few months ago, the president told foreign reporters that had he been president when the Al Jazeera journalists were arrested, he would not have referred them to trial.
This case stirred controversy throughout the world, claiming Egypt limits freedoms and arrests journalists who are merely doing their job.
The investigating authorities were not able to prove specific charges of espionage, and the journalists were released over a year later.
The Canadian, the Australian and the Dutch journalists were released first, then the Egyptians, one of whom was forced to abandon his Egyptian nationality.
Another similar problem arose when the police arrested officials of foreign civil society organizations under the military council, but Field Marshal Tantawy was right to deport them immediately.
Such matters should not be left for the Interior Ministry to deal with because it may well mishandle them and embarrass the regime. Alternatively, the government can form a task force from the presidency, the General Intelligence Service, the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry to address this kind of problems, taking the following into account:
1. How would the problem affect national security?
2. Does it entail international repercussions?
3. Does it violate global human rights treaties that Egypt has signed?
4. Is there a real crime against the Egyptian society punishable by the Egyptian law, or is it just a minor offence that would end with releases under pressure?
A decree was issued recently denying visas for tourists at points of entry. No one knows who issued it. It was not the prime minister nor the Tourism Ministry. Maybe it was the Interior Ministry. Then the decree was rescinded. Had we had that task force, we would not have had such confusion.
Egypt and its president were implicated before in unimportant cases and for no reason. I hope the the presidency would consider my suggestion.
Arise, O Egyptian, for Egypt is calling for you.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm