CAIRO -- The attorney for ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called recent reports of Mubarak's death an "outrageous rumor," saying the former leader was regaining his health.
Yousri Abdelrazeq railed against the official Middle East News Agency, which reported Tuesday that Mubarak was "clinically dead," charging that the journalists responsible for the report should resign.
"Right now, his health is improving," said Abdelrazeq, the head of Mubarak's legal defense team. "The news of his death in the media are lies."
The conflicting reports about how Mubarak is faring have only added to the suspicions already percolating among Egyptians. Many believe the army exaggerated his medical problems as a ploy to move him from a prison hospital to a more comfortable military complex.
"I didn’t buy the news of Mubarak’s death because he’s died many times before. They keep provoking us. It’s like they’re sticking their tongues out at the people," said Maged Tawfiles, a university student in Cairo. "Nothing has changed. We’re tired, fed-up and divided. I’m constantly confused."
The back-and-forth reports about Mubarak come at a perilous time for the country: Egypt is awaiting official news of who won its weekend presidential runoff, with both candidates claiming victory. Its parliament has been dissolved by a court ruling. The ruling military council has issued a sweeping decree giving it the power to pass laws and curbing the authority of the future president.
The revolution, many fear, has been crushed. The confusion over Mubarak was quickly satirized by Egyptians online, who drew parallels between his fate and that of Egypt itself, bitterly joking that the revolution was also "clinically dead."
"So Morsi says he's won & we don't believe him. Shafik says he's won & we don't believe him. & Mubarak is dead & we don't believe him," Egyptian Twitter user @KhalidAbdalla wrote Tuesday.
-- Reem Abdellatif and Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo, Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Egyptian soldiers stand guard Wednesday outside Cairo's Maadi Armed Forces Hospital, where former President Hosni Mubarak was receiving medical treatment while serving his prison sentence. Credit: Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images