Cablegate: April 6 Activist On His U.S. Visit and Regime

Published: Tue 30 Dec 2008 09:09 AM
DE RUEHEG #2572/01 3650909
R 300909Z DEC 08
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 002572
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2028
REF: A. CAIRO 2462
B. CAIRO 2454
C. CAIRO 2431
Classified By: ECPO A/Mincouns Catherine Hill-Herndon for reason 1.4 (d).
1. (C) Summary and comment: On December 23, April 6 activist
XXXXXXXXXXXX expressed satisfaction with his participation in
the December 3-5 "Alliance of Youth Movements Summit," and
with his subsequent meetings with USG officials, on Capitol
Hill, and with think tanks. He described how State Security
(SSIS) detained him at the Cairo airport upon his return and
confiscated his notes for his summit presentation calling for
democratic change in Egypt, and his schedule for his
Congressional meetings. XXXXXXXXXXXX contended that the GOE will never undertake significant reform, and therefore, Egyptians
need to replace the current regime with a parliamentary
democracy. He alleged that several opposition parties and
movements have accepted an unwritten plan for democratic
transition by 2011; we are doubtful of this claim. XXXXXXXXXXXX
said that although SSIS recently released two April 6
activists, it also arrested three additional group members.
We have pressed the MFA for the release of these April 6
activists. April 6's stated goal of replacing the current
regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011
presidential elections is highly unrealistic, and is not
supported by the mainstream opposition. End summary and
Satisfaction with the Summit
2. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX expressed satisfaction with the December 3-5
"Alliance of Youth Movements Summit" in New York, noting that
he was able to meet activists from other countries and
outline his movement's goals for democratic change in Egypt.
He told us that the other activists at the summit were very
supportive, and that some even offered to hold public
demonstrations in support of Egyptian democracy in their
countries, with XXXXXXXXXXXX as an invited guest. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he discussed with the other activists how April 6 members could more effectively evade harassment and surveillance from SSIS with technical upgrades, such as consistently alternating
computer "simcards." However, XXXXXXXXXXXX lamented to us that
because most April 6 members do not own computers, this
tactic would be impossible to implement. XXXXXXXXXXXX was
appreciative of the successful efforts by the Department and
the summit organizers to protect his identity at the summit,
and told us that his name was never mentioned publicly.
A Cold Welcome Home
3. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that SSIS detained and searched him at the Cairo Airport on December 18 upon his return from the
U.S. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, SSIS found and confiscated two
documents in his luggage: notes for his presentation at the
summit that described April 6's demands for democratic
transition in Egypt, and a schedule of his Capitol Hill
meetings. XXXXXXXXXXXX described how the SSIS officer told him that State Security is compiling a file on him, and that the
officer's superiors instructed him to file a report on
XXXXXXXXXXXX's most recent activities.
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Washington Meetings and April 6 Ideas for Regime Change
--------------------------------------------- ----------
4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX described his Washington appointments as
positive, saying that on the Hill he met with Rep. Edward
Royce, a variety of House staff members, including from the
offices of Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Wolf (R-VA), and
with two Senate staffers. XXXXXXXXXXXX also noted that he met with
several think tank members. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Rep. Wolf's
office invited him to speak at a late January Congressional
hearing on House Resolution 1303 regarding religious and
political freedom in Egypt. XXXXXXXXXXXX told us he is interested
in attending, but conceded he is unsure whether he will have
the funds to make the trip. He indicated to us that he has
not been focusing on his work as a "fixer" for journalists,
due to his preoccupation with his U.S. trip.
5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX described how he tried to convince his
Washington interlocutors that the USG should pressure the GOE
to implement significant reforms by threatening to reveal
CAIRO 00002572 002 OF 002
information about GOE officials' alleged "illegal" off-shore
bank accounts. He hoped that the U.S. and the international
community would freeze these bank accounts, like the accounts
of Zimbabwean President Mugabe's confidantes. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he wants to convince the USG that Mubarak is worse than Mugabe
and that the GOE will never accept democratic reform. XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted that Mubarak derives his legitimacy from U.S. support, and therefore charged the U.S. with "being
responsible" for Mubarak's "crimes." He accused NGOs working
on political and economic reform of living in a "fantasy
world," and not recognizing that Mubarak -- "the head of the
snake" -- must step aside to enable democracy to take root.
6. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that several opposition forces --
including the Wafd, Nasserite, Karama and Tagammu parties,
and the Muslim Brotherhood, Kifaya, and Revolutionary
Socialist movements -- have agreed to support an unwritten
plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving
a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and
parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections
(ref C). According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, the opposition is interested in
receiving support from the army and the police for a
transitional government prior to the 2011 elections. XXXXXXXXXXXX
asserted that this plan is so sensitive it cannot be written
down. (Comment: We have no information to corroborate that
these parties and movements have agreed to the unrealistic
plan XXXXXXXXXXXX has outlined. Per ref C, XXXXXXXXXXXX previously told us that this plan was publicly available on the internet. End comment.)
7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said that the GOE has recently been cracking
down on the April 6 movement by arresting its members. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that although SSIS had released XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX "in the past few days," it had arrested three other members. (Note: On December 14, we pressed the MFA for the release of XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX, and on December 28 we asked the MFA for the GOE to release the additional three activists. End note.) XXXXXXXXXXXX conceded that April 6 has no feasible plans for future activities. The group would like to call for another strike on April 6, 2009, but realizes this would be
"impossible" due to SSIS interference, XXXXXXXXXXXX said. He
lamented that the GOE has driven the group's leadership
underground, and that one of its leaders, Ahmed Maher, has
been in hiding for the past week.
8. (C) Comment: XXXXXXXXXXXX offered no roadmap of concrete steps toward April 6's highly unrealistic goal of replacing the
current regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the
2011 presidential elections. Most opposition parties and
independent NGOs work toward achieving tangible, incremental
reform within the current political context, even if they may
be pessimistic about their chances of success. XXXXXXXXXXXX's
wholesale rejection of such an approach places him outside
this mainstream of opposition politicians and activists.
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