A lawyer has filed a complaint against a contractor who made explosive allegations against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and military officials.
The New Arab reported on Wednesday that Mohammed Hamed Salem had filed a complaint with Egypt’s Attorney General Nabil Sadek accusing contractor Mohamed Ali of “high treason” and “spreading false news to mislead public opinion”.
On Tuesday, Mohamed Ali, who said he worked with the army for 15 years, posted a video to his Facebook page, accusing el-Sisi, his wife and a number of officials of squandering public funds on vanity projects while Egypt’s poverty rate soars.
The video went viral but has reportedly since been taken down.
A day later, while Ali was broadcasting a second message on Facebook, his father, Ahmed Moussa, appeared on state-affiliated television accusing his son of lying and contradicting Ali’s claim that he was owed $13.3m by the military.
Ali has alleged that el-Sisi, his wife Intisar, the Transport Minister Major General Kamel al-Wazir and several other military officials stole money from construction companies working with the army, including his own.
He claims he was commissioned by a brigade army officer to build a five-star hotel in a remote area of Cairo with no nearby tourist destinations, as well as being rushed by army commanders to construct a palace for el-Sisi in Alexandria because the president and his wife had decided to spend the Muslim holiday of Eid there.
Ali alleges that the Engineering Authority of the armed forces directly assigns projects to companies, rather than through tender, and expects them to start work without payment.
In the second video, Ali criticised allegations made against him, including that he was a sympathiser of the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned group, and that he had fled Egypt with millions.
Ali posted the videos from Spain, where he has emigrated and said he is living in fear for his family’s safety.
A series of megaprojects has been approved under el-Sisi, including the construction of a new capital adjacent to Cairo, intended to alleviate the capital’s congestion and overcrowding, and a mammoth redevelopment of the Suez Canal.
At the same time, austerity measures introduced when el-Sisi came to power in 2014, helped reboot an economy battered by the 2011 Arab Spring, but the poverty rate has soared.
According to official statistics, released by in July, one in three Egyptians is living in poverty.
An investigation by Reuters news agency estimated that Egypt’s armed forces control about 3 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product and have stakes in a variety of businesses.