Egypt's State Information Service (SIS) issued a press release on Sunday condemnnig as "inappropriate" a New York Times’ report published on Saturday titled “Tapes Reveal Egyptian Leaders’ Tacit Acceptance of Jerusalem Move” by David D. Kirkpatrick.
The article by Kirkpatrick, the Times’ international correspondent in London, claimed the newspaper obtained audio recordings of telephone calls between an alleged Egyptian intelligence officer and the hosts of several talk shows in Egypt instructing them to persuade their viewers to accept US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy to the city last December.
The Times article claimed that an intelligence officer named Ashraf El-Kholi had contacted talk show hosts Mofid Fawzy, Saeed Hassaseen, Azmi Megahed, and popular actress Yousra.
The SIS said that the people mentioned in the article were incorrectly labeled “the hosts of several influential talk shows in Egypt.”
“Mr. Mofid Fawzy is a journalist who stopped TV presenting years ago contrary to the claim made in the Times’ report,” the SIS statement said.
The release also said the talk show hosted by Hassaseen was off the air several weeks ahead of the Jerusalem decision.
"The renowned movie star Yousra has no relation whatsoever to presenting TV talk shows and is a household name in the movie and acting industry in Egypt and the Arab world; a fact Mr. Kirkpatrick should have been aware of given his long stay in Egypt," the SIS said.
"Moreover, Mrs. Yousra has denied knowing someone by the name Ashraf El-Kholi or that she discussed with anyone the issue of Jerusalem… adding that she was not present in Egypt during the period specified in the report," the press release said.
The SIS added that Yousra would seek legal action for defamation.
"Mr. Azmi Megahed, another talk show host mentioned in the NYT report, has completely denied knowing a man by the name of Ashraf El-Kholi," the release said.
The statement condemned the Times article for claiming that 'Captain Ashraf El-Kholi' is an officer with the Egyptian General Intelligence, yet failing to present its readers with “the slightest evidence as to the truth of this piece of information, or that a person by this name exists in the first place.”
The statement also asserted that Egypt’s positions on international issues are conveyed by the president, the minister of foreign affairs and in official statements, not from “alleged leaks from an anonymous source.”
“The Times’ report contains allegations regarding Egypt’s position on the Jerusalem issue mentioned in the so-called ‘audio recordings.’ It is inappropriate for The New York Times, a reputable newspaper, to publish such allegations,” the SIS said.
The statement added that Egypt has expressed “in word and dead” its position on the Jerusalem issue at the United Nations despite threats by the US to cut off aid to countries that condemn its Jerusalem decision at the UN General Assembly.
Shortly after Trump’s Jerusalem decision, Egypt submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council demanding its reversal. The resolution was vetoed by the US.
"The Times report itself admits this fact regarding the Egyptian position, saying ‘Egypt submitted a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding a reversal of Mr. Trump’s decision’,” the SIS said.