Former minister denies prior knowledge of destruction of State Security archive

Former Egyptian Interior Minister Mahmoud Wagdy on Monday denied prior knowledge of plans to destroy the archives of the disbanded State Security Investigative Services.

The former minister made the denial during questioning by Mohamed Fathy, the judicial official charged with investigating the destruction of the archives of Egypt's most notorious security agency.

Wagdy served as interior minister under former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, taking office on 29 January and resigning on 3 March following demonstrations by protesters, who cited Shafiq's affiliation to the Mubarak regime.

Citizens who raided State Security offices in various governorates handed in thousands of documents to judicial bodies. The documents were left at the disposal of the armed forces.

Meanwhile, investigations continue into security officers who burned and damaged the archives.

Wagdy said he ordered former State Security chief Hassan Abdel Rahman to protect the archives from damage before the incidents occurred. He said the State Security chief does not have the power to order the disposal of any documents.

Abdel Rahman denied giving instructions to burn the agency's documents. He said he only ordered the disposal of materials categorized as "highly classified."

Fathy is expected to confront officers accused of damaging classified documents with the accounts given by Wagdy and Abdel Rahman.

A joint panel of Egypt's military and prosecution services has been viewing 75,000 pages of the seized documents to decide whether State Security officers were involved in any violations.

Current Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy disbanded the State Security in March in response to pressure from protesters. The agency was one of the tools used by the Mubarak regime to suppress opposition, and it was involved in several human rights violations.

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