Documents recently turned over to Egyptian and Arab media by protesters who stormed offices of the State Security Investigations Service across Egypt are at the center of a saga of revelations that bring Wikileaks to mind.
The files, which contain detailed information about Islamists, artists, politicians, opposition figures and members of former President Hosni Mubarak's regime, seem to show that state security officials knew much about the personal lives of millions of Egyptians, especially high-profile figures. None of the reports could be independently verified, and it was not known if the accusations were truthful or possibly smear tactics.
But they have become a sensation on Facebook and other social-networking sites. One document quotes a former wife of Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa as saying the cleric was married to 10 women in secrecy over the years.
Another cleric who was closely followed and officially condemned by members of Mubarak's regime is Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi. A file mentions supposed details of his marriage to an Algerian woman against her parents' consent. It says the cleric, who was banned from preaching in Egypt under Mubarak's rule, later divorced his wife in absentia.
Media hosts and prominent journalists were named in many of the documents handed over by protesters. One file states that TV host Amr Leithy obeyed state security's order not to host opposition figure and former presidential candidate Ayman Nour on his show, which is broadcast on independent satellite channel Dream TV. Nour said this week that he was never scheduled to appear on the program.
In addition to documents, a number of videotapes and compact discs were apparently found at state security buildings. One tape was labeled "a videotape of a female member of the Kuwaiti royal family having sex with an Egyptian businessman."
A CD with phone recordings of calls supposedly made between former Interior Minister Habib Adli and ministry officials regarding the decision to fire live ammunition at protesters during early days of the January revolution was obtained by Dream TV host Mona Shazli. She said the recordings were forwarded to the attorney general's office.
Daily newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported that a document obtained by its reporters apparently revealed that Sunni cleric Mahmoud Amer, who previously issued a fatwa calling for the killing of reformer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, was cooperating with state security officials.
Dissolving the state security network has been one of the revolution's main demands. Thousands of protesters broke into state security premises in a number of governorates in recent days days to save whatever was left of documents not destroyed by police officers.
On Sunday, hundreds of protesters tried to take over the state security main headquarters in downtown Cairo. Clashes erupted between protesters and thugs who were present at the scene before military forces intervened and fired gunshots into the air to disperse the crowd and secure the building.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Protesters check contents of a state security office after storming its headquarters. Credit: Ahmed Ali / Associated Press