Paper alleges US espionage links at Cairo’s American University

America’s image in Egypt has suffered in recent days, after one of Egypt’s largest newspapers claimed in a series of articles that the American University in Cairo (AUC) is conducting espionage work for the US Pentagon. On March 30, Egypt’s Al Masry Al Yawm newspaper said that the AUC, one of Egypt’s most prominent academic institutions, which was established 90 years ago, had signed a contract worth $605,000 with the US Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU) to conduct research on “infectious diseases, applied research and development in Egypt”. Prompted by the article’s allegations, two representatives in the Egyptian People’s Assembly requested “an emergency meeting of national security and education officials to discuss espionage at the AUC”. US Embassy officials said the contract between NAMRU and the AUC was completely transparent and accused the newspaper of “play[ing] on popular conspiracy theories of US interloping in Egyptian affairs”. In a statement, the Embassy argued that the contract funds medical research on diseases such as avail influenza (also known as “bird flu”). It also invited (.wmv video) Egyptian television reporters to tour NAMRU’s research facilities in Cairo. But Al Masry Al Yawm has persisted with the allegations. The paper’s managing editor, Mohamed Samir, said he continues to question why there is “a connection between civilian institutions and a foreign military institution”. Earlier this week the newspaper published another article alleging another contract between the AUC and the US Army for the provision of “advisory and administrative services”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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