- - Thursday, August 16, 2012


CAIRO — An Egyptian court says a popular TV presenter and a chief editor of an independent daily are to go on trial for insulting the country’s newly elected Islamist president.

The Cairo court on Thursday charged Tawfiq Okasha with suggesting the killing of President Mohammed Morsi during his nightly show.

Mr. Okasha’s network el-Faraeen, or the Pharaohs, was ordered off the air, after he warned Mr. Morsi not to attend the funeral of 16 Egyptian soldiers killed in a militant attack this month. He said “spilling” Mr. Morsi’s blood would be permissible and alleged the president’s Muslim Brotherhood group was behind the attack.

Mr. Okasha is popular for his criticism of the Brotherhood and the activists behind last year’s uprising.

The court also referred chief editor Islam Afifi for his newspaper el-Dustour’s attacks on Mr. Morsi.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the legal actions ran counter to the spirit of last year’s revolution, in which Egyptians took to the streets and toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak.

“We are very concerned by reports that the Egyptian government is moving to restrict media freedom and criticism in Egypt,” she told reporters.

“Freedom of the press, freedom of expression are fundamental tenets of vibrant, strong democracies. They are part and parcel of what the Egyptian people went into the streets for.”


Taliban storm base linked to nuclear arms

KAMRA — Heavily armed Taliban fighters blasted their way into a Pakistani air force base with possible links to the country’s nuclear program in a brazen assault that took two hours of fighting to put down, leaving a security officer and nine insurgents dead and underscoring the group’s continued threat despite numerous military offensives.

Hours later, Taliban gunmen in northern Pakistan forced 20 Shiite Muslims off buses, lined them up and killed them in the latest in a series of sectarian attacks.

The large Air Force Base Minhas, located only about 25 miles northwest of Islamabad, hosts fighter jets, including F-16s, and contains a factory that makes aircraft and other weapons systems.

The weapons development and the presence of jets that could be used to deploy nuclear bombs have raised suspicions among some experts that the base is linked to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

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