CAIRO, Egypt — (DMN/Al-Jazeera) – Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 84, was declared clinically dead shortly after arriving at a military hospital in Cairo, where he was taken after suffering a stroke and cardiac arrest, medical sources told the state-run Mena News Agency. Official reports of the stroke and cardiac arrest came earlier Tuesday. Adel Saeed, spokesman of the Egyptian prosecutor, had told CNN that Mubarak’s heart had stopped, and that personnel revived him with “electric shocks and CPR.” State-run Nile TV reported that Mubarak suffered a stroke. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison June 2 for the killing of pro-democracy demonstrators last year. He already was suffering from health problems and attended court on a gurney.
At the scene
Jon Leyne BBC News, Cairo
By early evening, the crowds of protesters were beginning to edge out the traffic from Tahrir Square. Organisers drew barricades across the entrances. Egyptian flag sellers took up position, and the chants began. “Down with the military,” went one. “Wake up field marshal, this is the last day,” went another – a reference to the promise by the military ruler Field Marshal Tantawi to hand over power to civilians by the end of June. Then the most familiar cry of all: “Erhal” (meaning simply “leave”!).
As the sun began to set, a series of marches converged on the square. One man rallied protesters with a drum adorned with a picture of the Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Mursi. Any demonstration organised by the Muslim Brotherhood is almost guaranteed a strong turnout. The question now is how determined they are to challenge the latest moves by the military to take back sweeping powers, or would victory in the presidential elections be enough to satisfy them.
Thousands of Egyptians have packed into Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against the ruling military council’s decision to claim new powers, amid contesting claims by both presidential candidates of victory in the weekend’s election. In the hub of the uprising that deposed president Hosni Mubarak, protesters chanted against his military successors, with a steady trickle of people joining the demonstration after sunset. The demonstration comes against a backdrop of uncertainty over the winner of the presidential vote, with the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi and his rival, former prime minister Ahmed Shafik, both claiming victory.
Earlier on Tuesday, a campaign spokesman for Shafik said he had won the presidential election, countering the Muslim Brotherhood’s claims that its candidate was the winner. Ahmed Sarhan told a televised news conference in Cairo that Shafik won 51.5 per cent of the vote and dismissed the claim of victory by Morsi’s campaign as “false”. “General Ahmed Shafik is the next president of Egypt,” said Sarhan, adding that the candidate won some 500,000 votes more than Morsi. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Cairo, said the claims did not come as a surprise. “What we have at the moment is both sides claiming they have won, and both sides are using exactly the same figures,” he said. Against this backdrop of conflicting victory claims, thousands of protesters began to gather following afternoon prayers in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Led by the Muslim Brotherhood, participants in Tahrir Square rally chanted “Down with military rule”. The opposition April 6 Youth Movement had called on its supporters to join the protests. Hundreds more protested in front of the parliament building, a few hundred metres away from Tahrir Square, against a decree by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) dissolving the Islamist-led parliament, following a constitutional court ruling last week which found the legislature to be unconstitutional.
The Brotherhood was present in strength in the protests, called by several groups which had participated in Egypt’s 2011 uprising, against measures by the ruling military council to claim sweeping powers. “The dissolution of the parliament is null and void, the military council must leave and now legitimacy lies with the people who elected Morsi,” said Abdel Basset Mohieddine, a Brotherhood support taking part in the protest. The SCAF declaration also grants it veto power over the wording of a new permanent constitution and appeared to interfere with the ability of the incoming president to exercise his powers.
With official results in the presidential poll, the first since the uprising that removed Hosni Mubarak, not expected before Thursday, both camps claimed victory for their candidates. At a news conference earlier on Tuesday, Morsi’s campaign released what they said were the certified figures transmitted by election officials to the electoral commission, which they said showed their candidate taking 52 per cent of the vote. Egyptian state media reported that counts showed Morsi ahead. “After the counting was finished in all of Egypt’s 27 provinces, indications show that Mohammed Morsi has won 51 per cent and Ahmed Shafik won 49 per cent,” the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper said on its website.
A confirmed win for Morsi would mark the first time the Islamists had taken the presidency of the Arab world’s most populous nation. After campaign officials announced his projected victory on Sunday, there were scenes of jubilation at Morsi’s Cairo headquarters from where the candidate pledged to work “hand-in-hand with all Egyptians for a better future, freedom, democracy, development and peace”. “We are not seeking vengeance or to settle accounts,” he said, adding that he would build a “modern, democratic state” for all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians alike.
The BBC contributed to this report.
LONDON, United Kingdom — (DMN/BBC) – Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has sought political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He walked into the embassy in London’s Knightsbridge district and asked for asylum under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration. A man speaking from the embassy said the whistleblower had arrived there today. Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino also confirmed the Australian had taken refuge at its embassy and that the country’s government was weighing up the request.
A message was posted on the Wikileaks Twitter account, saying: “ALERT: Julian Assange has requested political asylum and is under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.” A second read: “We will have more details on the Ecuadorian situation soon.” The dramatic move by Mr Assange followed his long-running legal bid to halt his extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex crime allegations. The UK Supreme Court decided on May 30 that extradition was lawful and could go ahead, but Mr Assange was given time to consider the judgment.
The Swedish authorities want him to answer accusations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010 while on a visit to give a lecture. Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, says the sex was consensual and the allegations against him are politically motivated. Last week the supreme court reaffirmed its rejection of the 40-year-old’s appeal against his extradition, turning down an 11th hour request to reopen the case.
In a brief statement, the court said the application was “without merit and it is dismissed.” The supreme court case revolved around the question of whether a prosecutor constituted a “judicial authority” as the European arrest warrant specifies. The supreme court found by a majority of five to two against Assange, saying that the warrant was valid. In its statement declining to reopen the case, the court said it had agreed unanimously that extradition proceedings should not begin for another two weeks.
The Guardian contributed to this story.
Federal prosecutors are 0-2 against high-profile defendants. Former Senator and Presidential Candidate John Edwards was acquitted and Baseball great Roger Clemens was acquitted. The HOUSTON CHRONICLE is reporting that Roger Clemens’ lead defense lawyer says at least three jurors who voted to acquit the legendary pitcher on charges of lying to Congress expressed concerns that prosecutors had “targeted” Clemens for something he didn’t do. Houston defense lawyer Rusty Hardin told the Houston Chronicle in a post-trial interview today that three women jurors told the defense team “if Roger can be targeted like this for something he didn’t do, they might be too.” “They afraid of the government,” said Hardin, a graduate of Connecticut’s Wesleyan University and Southern Methodist University law school. “The government’s conduct in this case so outraged those three women that they’re scared of the government. One of them said all Roger said was he didn’t do it and look what they did to him. And if he hadn’t had the money to fight it, they’re sense is what will people like us do?”
Hardin said defense lawyers had relayed an invitation to jurors through a U.S. Marshall to meet them after the trial at the Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille near Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center to discuss what led to their vote to acquit Clemens of six counts of lying to Congress. The acquittal was a stinging rebuke to prosecutors who mounted a four-year investigation, a mistrial and a final trial against Clemens, a multimillionaire pitching star who played 24 seasons in the major leagues including with the Houston Astros. Seven or eight jurors went to the bar after announcing their verdict late Monday but by the time Hardin and his team arrived only three women jurors were left.
The jurors who had departed “didn’t want to be identified as people criticizing the government,” Hardin said. “I can’t say it was a legitimate fear – it’s just the atmosphere created by what (prosecutors) did to Roger.” Hardin said that he had pressed his defense team to compile and present evidence that proved Clemens’ complete innocence rather than merely building a case that relied upon sowing reasonable doubt about aspects of the prosecution case. “This was not a verdict based on the government didn’t prove their case,” said Hardin, a former prosecutor in Texas before embarking on a lucrative career as a defense lawyer. “This jury clearly didn’t believe he committed the core offenses.”
Hardin said one of the three women jurors faulted prosecutors for summoning a witness who was 11 years old in 1998 to testify that Clemens had been at a pool party at the Florida home of Toronto Blue Jays player Jose Canseco. Prosecutors contended Clemens was at the party and discussed taking anabolic steroids with another guest. Clemens contended he stayed at the house but did not attend the disputed party. The three women jurors also “thought the physical evidence was worthless,” Hardin said, referring to medical waste from alleged injections that Clemens’ accuser Brian McNamee retained in a crushed beer can for seven years before turning it over to federal agents in 2008.
Hardin said the jurors “didn’t like the government experts” –scientists that sought to connect Clemens’ DNA to a lone syringe and two cotton balls retained by McNamee. Added Hardin: “They didn’t like anything about the case.” Hardin said the three debriefed jurors “agreed with everything I have been screaming about for four and a half years – the government shouldn’t have done it; it was totally wrong; Congress shouldn’t have called him up there.” Hardin belittled congressional claims that Clemens’ testimony was sought by lawmakers in 2008 to prepare for legislation designed to protect youngsters from the ravages of performance enhancing drugs allegedly being used by major league baseball players.
One of the jurors emphasized that if Congress wanted to pass legislation to help kids “they don’t need to call a ballplayer up there and make him testify when they know he’s going to say he didn’t do it,” Hardin said. “How does that help pass stuff to help kids?” Prosecutors charged Clemens with six felony counts of lying to Congress for testimony before Congress in 2008 where he denied using anabolic steroids or human growth hormone. Clemens was never charged with illegally using the prescription medications. Clemens vehemently denied McNamee’s claim that he had injected Clemens with the performance enhancing drugs more than two dozen times between 1998 and 2001. After hearing conflicting testimony by Clemens and McNamee in 2008, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform referred Clemens’ contradictory testimony to the Justice Department for a perjury investigation.
Regardless of what anyone thinks about the specifics of Roger Clemens case or John Edwards, this journalist agrees with Rusty Hardin. The government will spend absurd amounts of money to prosecute almost anyone for anything. With the post 9/11 restrictions on individual freedom at an all time high, these are perilous times for many Americans. At the end of the day, lying to Congress is kind of an oxymoron.
When a video went viral of a 4-year old Greensburg, Indiana boy singing a disgusting anti-gay song on YouTube, a news story developed that was carried by print and broadcast media around the world. It was reported by Anderson Cooper on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and almost every major newspaper in the United States. How…exactly…did the video become known? There is a fascinating piece running today by Morgan Watkins in THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR that answers that question. You might be surprised.
A church in Greensburg garnered national attention recently for a video of a boy singing an anti-gay song for a cheering congregation. A few weeks ago the video had only a handful of views. But after the blog “Joe. My. God.” published it on May 29 and then ran the name of the church where it was filmed–the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle — the video racked up more than 800,000 views on YouTube. It wasn’t a journalist or even a local resident who traced the video to its source. It was a man from Texas named Mike, who stumbled across it by accident.
When “Mike” found the video on YouTube of the boy, who was applauded after his closing line, “Ain’t no homo gonna make it to heaven,” had only 16 views. What upset Mike the most was its listing under the YouTube category “comedy,” the Star reports. “It’s not funny to sing about a group going to hell,” Mike said. After some digging around on-line, Mike traced the video to the Greensburg church. He sent the information to “Joe. My. God.,” which mentioned in its May 30 post that an unspecified reader made the discovery. “It’s not . . . a ‘Gotcha!’ moment. It’s much deeper than this,” he said. “Because looking at it from the perspective of someone who actually went through that stuff, it’s very, very abusive.”
Mike, who said he knew he was gay from a young age, grew up going to fundamentalist churches in Texas that were strongly anti-gay. That is one reason he took the time to research the video. He has computer-science experience but insists anyone with basic skills can do such research.
The Indianapolis Star contributed to this op/ed piece.