US Embassy Cables: in 2009 “APRIL 6” Leader talks with US Congress about Maher ties to Freedom House
“APRIL 6” LEADER PLANS U.S. TRAVEL; DESCRIBES MOVEMENT IN DISARRAY
Ref ID: 09CAIRO695
Date: 2009-04-23 15:45
Origin: Embassy Cairo
DE RUEHEG #0695 1131545
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 231545Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2268
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000695
FOR NEA/ELA, DRL/NESCA AND H
NSC FOR KUMAR AND KUCHTA-HELBLING
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/23/2029
TAGS: PHUM KDEM EG
SUBJECT: “APRIL 6” LEADER PLANS U.S. TRAVEL; DESCRIBES
MOVEMENT IN DISARRAY
REF: A. CAIRO 591
B. CAIRO 580
C. CAIRO 468
D. 08 CAIRO 2572
Classified By: Economic-Political Counselor
Catherine Hill-Herndon for reason 1.4 (d).
1. (C) On April 22, “April 6 Movement” leader Ahmed Saleh told us that he plans to travel to Washington from May 2 to May 9 to testify in a May 7 Congressional hearing on a draft resolution on human rights in Egypt sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). Saleh said that Dina Guirgis of the Washington-based NGO “Voices for a Democratic Egypt (VDE)” is working to schedule meetings for him with Congress, and VDE will provide him with accommodation. Saleh believes that Egyptian activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim is “personally” funding Saleh’s plane travel to the U.S. Saleh requested assistance in setting up meetings with USG officials so he can “explain the importance of democracy in Egypt.”
2. (C) According to Saleh, the “April 6 Movement” is in increasing disarray. Saleh said that Islamist members, such as Labor Party activist Dia Isawi, are accusing him and secular “April 6” leader Ahmed Maher of “treason” for their association with the U.S. NGO Freedom House, which Isawi views as a “Zionist organization.”
(Note: Saleh is secular and is allied with Ahmed Maher in advocating a secular orientation for “April 6.” End note.)
Saleh noted that the Islamist members held a mock trial of Ahmed Maher for “treason” into the early morning hours of April 22 after obtaining Freedom House documents detailing planned funding of “April 6 activities.” Saleh said that as a result of this internal “April 6” strife, programming with Freedom House is now “impossible.” Saleh speculated that Isawi might be working as an agent for State Security.
3. (C) Saleh noted that youth activists from the secular Ghad party are also accusing him and Ahmed Maher of “treason” because of their contacts with Freedom House. Saleh claimed that the prominent blogger Wael Abbas is working with Dia Isawi to undermine the secular “April 6” leadership so that Abbas can claim the mantle of internet activism for himself. According to Saleh, Abbas has threatened to post information about Saleh and Maher’s links to Freedom House on his blog. Saleh told us he is still planning to establish an “underground” secular wing of “April 6” (ref C).
4. (C) In a separate meeting April 23, Wael Abbas criticized “April 6” leader Ahmed Maher as weak and the movement as disorganized, but did not voice any support for Isawi.
(Comment: We do not believe that Abbas wants to dominate other internet activists, as Saleh suggested. Abbas has worked closely with other activists in the past, and has expressed to us his hope that more internet activists will participate in political life. End comment.)