On Sunday parliament’s Ethics Committee recommended that MP Anwar Al-Sadat, head of the Reform and Development Committee and former chairman of Human Rights Committee, be stripped of his membership of the House.
The committee’s recommendation came after its 15 members said Al-Sadat was guilty of sending classified information to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), leaking a draft NGO law to foreign embassies and forging the signatures of 16 MPs.
Sources disclosed that after Al-Sadat was questioned last week an ethics sub-committee recommended he not only be stripped of his parliamentary membership but also be referred to the prosecution authorities for investigation.
Ihab Al-Tamawi, a member of the Ethics Committee, told reporters that Al-Sadat was questioned on 5 February by a four-member sub-committee headed by legal expert Hassan Bassiouni.
“The 15-member Ethics Committee, headed by Chairman of the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee Bahaaeddin Abu Shokka, met today [Sunday] to review the accusations levelled against Al-Sadat and the way he defended himself before the sub-committee,” Al-Tamawi said.
“All 15 members of the Ethics Committee agreed that Al-Sadat’s parliamentary membership should be dropped after he failed to explain why he was involved in collecting and sending secret information to the IPU and faking the signatures of 16 of his colleagues on laws he drafted on criminal procedures and NGOs.”
Al-Tamawi claimed that while head of parliament’s Human Rights Committee Al-Sadat sent a detailed memo to the IPU on the situation of human rights in Egypt and that most of the information contained in the memo was false.
“Al-Sadat claimed that the Interior Ministry and Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal were not doing enough to advance respect of human rights in Egypt. The head of the IPU responded by sending Al-Sadat’s memo back to speaker Abdel-Aal who said in a plenary session that he would not let the matter pass easily.”
Al-Tamawi also claimed that the Dutch ambassador to Egypt told Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali that he had obtained a copy of the government-drafted NGO law from Al-Sadat. Wali sent a complaint to Abdel-Aal, requesting that Al-Sadat be investigated for leaking “national security” information.
Al-Tamawi also disclosed that 10 MPs had complained that Al-Sadat faked their signatures on two laws. “Two MPs asked Al-Sadat to withdraw their signatures after they found out he had changed the content of the original draft of the two laws,” said Al-Tamawi. “Four MPs also said they had made a mistake by signing Al-Sadat’s draft NGO law because they did not read it in advance.”
MP Mustafa Abu Zeid told the Ethics Committee that a colleague had signed Al-Sadat’s draft NGO law on his behalf, adding “this was a mistake because I did not ask any MP to sign on behalf of me.”
MP Zeinab Ali Salem said she had signed Al-Sadat’s NGO law “but later discovered the original content I approved in signature had been changed”.
The Ethics Committee’s recommendations will now be referred to the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee as stipulated by Article 53 of parliament’s internal bylaws, says Al-Tamawi.
“Article 53 states that if the Ethics Committee recommends an MP be stripped of parliamentary membership the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee must meet to discuss the recommendation, question the MP and listen to his defence.”
Al-Sadat told reporters that he has not been notified of the Ethics Committee’s recommendations.
“During the investigation I said I did not trust the ethics sub-committee and would prefer to be questioned by the prosecutor-general,” said Al-Sadat.
“If a final report recommends that I be stripped of my parliamentary membership I suspect a majority of MPs would vote against the recommendation,” added the nephew of late president Anwar Al-Sadat.
Al-Sadat denied he forwarded classified information to the IPU. “All I did was make a complaint that Egypt’s parliament is not doing a good job when it comes to human rights,” he said.
Al-Sadat also dismissed claims that he gave a copy of the government-drafted NGO law to the Dutch ambassador, pointing out that “the government never sent a draft NGO law to parliament in the first place.”
On Monday Al-Sadat announced that he had officially requested Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek question him over the three accusations.
Lodging a complaint against himself, Al-Sadat requested Sadek take all measures necessary to question him over accusations made by the Ethics Committee.
In his complaint Al-Sadat wrote that “since these accusations negatively affect my dignity and reputation as an MP I hope that you officially request parliament that I be stripped of my parliamentary immunity so that you can take all the measures necessary to uncover the truth and all the facts related to these accusations.”
A number of MPs expressed solidarity with Al-Sadat on Monday. The leftist 25-30 parliamentary group issued a statement saying depriving Al-Sadat of his parliamentary membership would be “an arbitrary move”.
“Most of the accusations levelled against Al-Sadat are groundless and politicised,” said the statement.
Independent MP Samir Ghattas told reporters that the accusations against Al-Sadat should be thoroughly investigated by the prosecutor-general since the Ethics Committee is politicised and cannot be trusted.
Ghattas said the Dutch ambassador to Cairo has denied Al-Sadat gave him a copy of the government-drafted NGO law.
“The Foreign Ministry should summon the Dutch ambassador officially and question him on this issue,” said Ghattas.
Ghattas also argued that handwriting experts should investigate whether Al-Sadat had faked the signatures of other MPs. He also stressed that all Al-Sadat had done was to send a complaint to the IPU. “He has never sent classified information to foreign institutions which is what the Ethics Committee alleges,” said Ghattas.