A journalist who claimed to have interviewed Egypt’s ousted president fired back on Sunday at Hosni Mubarak’s lawyer, who said the interview never took place.
“The interview is real,” Mohamed al-Sheikh, a reporter at Egypt’s al-Watan newspaper, told Al Arabiya English.
The interview was billed as Mubarak’s first comments to the media since he was detained after his removal from power in 2011. However, Farid el-Deeb, Mubarak’s lawyer, accused al-Sheikh of fabricating the whole thing.
El-Deeb said that the pictures of al-Sheikh sitting on a hospital bed allegedly in Mubarak’s private jet did not prove that the journalist had met with Mubarak.
According to al-Wafd newspaper, El-Deeb said that the 24-year-old journalist was not sitting in a jet and that it “looked like an ambulance” rather than an aircraft.
Reuters reported that El-Deeb had sent a text message to the former president to verify whether the interview happened.
“[Mubarak] sent me a message saying this didn't happen,” Reuters quoted the lawyer as saying. “All of it is incorrect ... Mubarak did not meet with him or sit with him or any of this.”
However, al-Sheikh responded saying: “Everyone knows how Mubarak’s jet looks like. This is his medical jet and has been with him for more than 10 years.”
“The pictures show police officers and Mubarak’s medical team too,” he added.
Al-Watan said that the journalist sat with the former president in a side room at a court in which his retrial was taking place on Saturday.
“Mubarak was sitting on a chair and did not look ill,” al-Sheikh told Al Arabiya, adding that there were security guards in the room.
The journalist said that he does have definitive proof that an interview was conducted but “a successful journalist does not reveal his sources.” However, he admitted that he did not have pictures of the Mubarak and himself.
Meanwhile, al-Watan newspaper’s deputy editor-in-chief, Ahmed al-Khatib, told Al Arabiya that the lawyer’s statements against the daily’s reporter were to be “spiteful.”
“We do not consider el-Deeb to be a credible and honest source,” al-Khatib said, adding that the lawyer has had political disagreements with the newspaper.
Mubarak, who is considered to be the first Arab leader to be put on trial by his own people, faces corruption charges over the wealth his family amassed under his 30-year-rule.
In the alleged interview
In the alleged interview, Mubarak said he was concerned about Egypt’s poor, saying: “This is the secret of my sadness: to see the poor in this condition.”
He also purportedly said he was worried by the prospect of Egypt concluding an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a $4.8 billion loan to aid the country’s deteriorating economy.
In his comments, Mubarak also said it was too early to judge the performance of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
“[Mursi] is a new president who is carrying out weighty missions for the first time, and we shouldn’t judge him now,” Mubarak said.