Egyptian lawyer denies that Mubarak spoke to paper

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A lawyer representing former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak denied on Sunday that his client had spoken to a newspaper, describing as a fabrication reports that he had said it was too early to judge Mohamed Mursi's performance as president.

Sunday's edition of El-Watan said its journalist had broken through security lines to speak to Mubarak on Saturday before his retrial on charges of complicity in the death of protesters killed in the uprising that swept him from office.

Lawyer Farid el-Deeb said he had sent Mubarak, 85, a message asking if the interview with the reporter had happened. “He sent me a message saying this didn't happen,” he said as quoted by Reuters.

“All of it is incorrect ... Mubarak did not meet with him or sit with him or any of this.”

El-Watan said its journalist had spoken to Mubarak in a side room at the court where his retrial began on Saturday.

It quoted the deposed leader as saying it was too early to judge Mursi and expressing concern about the economy and lax security in Egypt, which he ruled for 30 years.

Deeb said the remarks appeared to be based on comments that he himself had made to the media.

In what was billed as his first media interview since he was detained after his removal from power in 2011, Mubarak allegedly said that the current president faces a tough job in running the country.

“He is a new president who is carrying out weighty missions for the first time, and we shouldn’t judge him now,” Mubarak, 85, said in the remarks published on Sunday in Egypt’s el-Watan newspaper and translated by Reuters news agency.

Concerns for the poor

“This is the secret of my sadness: to see the poor in this condition,” said Mubarak, who was toppled by an uprising fuelled by economic hardship.

El-Watan newspaper is known as one of the country’s media outlets that is fiercely critical of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“History will judge and I am still certain that the coming generations will view me fairly.”

Hosni Mubarak

Mubarak also said he was worried by the prospect of Egypt concluding an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a $4.8 billion loan seen as vital to supporting the economy. The loan would bring austerity measures likely to curb subsidy spending.

“I fear for the country because of the IMF loan,” he said. “Its terms are very difficult, and represent a great danger to the Egyptian economy later on. This will then hit the poor citizen, and the low-income bracket,” he said.

With parliamentary elections approaching later this year, the Mursi administration has yet to seal an IMF deal.

Mubarak also said he was concerned about lax security, apparently referring to increased crime, and a rise in Islamist militancy in the Sinai Peninsula.

He added, “History will judge and I am still certain that the coming generations will view me fairly.”

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