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BBC report on torture in Egypt contains 'lies and allegations': State Information Service

Ahram Online , Sunday 25 Feb 2018
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FILE PHOTO: A BBC sign is displayed outside Broadcasting House in London, Britain July 19, 2017. REUTERS
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Egypt's official State Information Service (SIS) has described a recent BBC report on human rights and torture in the country as containing "lies and allegations," saying it will summon the head of the BBC's office in Egypt "to receive an official letter" of response.

The SIS, acting on an official request, called on the BBC to take an "unmistakable and clear stance to address the flagrant professional violations of its correspondent."

The 5000-word BBC article and video report, titled The Shadow over Egypt, was published and broadcast on Friday.

It contains interviews with families of alleged victims of torture and enforced disappearances by security agents.

The SIS said late on Saturday that the author of the report, Orla Guerin, aimed to "impose her biased personal views and impressions, without any factual basis, in violation of internationally recognised professional norms and those of the BBC itself."

Guerin, the author, is an Irish journalist and news presenter who previously worked as the BBC's Egypt correspondent from 2013 to January 2018.

The SIS said the report failed to provide any information about a woman which it claimed was subjected to forced disappearance.

The agency also pointed out the report's lack of evidence for police involvement in the case, adding that they tried twice to contact the author to get information about the case, but she could not be reached.

"Apart from photos and video of her mother and house, the report on so-called 'Zubeida' -- a girl who has allegedly been forcibly disappeared -- did not refer to any data or information on her status so as to enable us to follow up on her case," the SIS said.

The agency also criticised Guerin for citing on unidentified sources, including "lawyers, human rights campaigners and former prisoners" without revealing their identities despite the "seriousness" of their claims.

It added that the report was "replete with contradictions," showing the writer's "preconceived bias to portray an offensive image of the conditions in Egypt."

The SIS also criticized Guerin for describing the 2013 uprising as a "coup," even though it "had a mass support."

The agency responded to the author's claim that "brutality is routine in Egyptian prison" by stating she failed to report on conditions of currently-imprisoned activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, whose wife regularly brings him food, fresh laundry and cigarettes in prison.

Abdel-Fattah is currently serving a five-year term for protesting without permission.

The SIS noted that Guerin did not report any quotes from his family alleging torture.

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