Update: Public prosecutor investigates Morsy office for phone tapping; office denies reports

Public Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud has opened investigations into claims made by Essam al-Erian, acting head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, who alleged that President Mohamed Morsy's administration engages in phone tapping and secretly records all of its meetings for security reasons.

Mahmoud sent a message to the head of the president’s office on Thursday asking if Erian himself is involved in making such recordings.

He also asked that the president's office submit a legal document to show whether permission has been given for such recordings. The law prohibits such an action without formal permission from the courts or the public prosecutor’s office, Mahmoud said.

In a press statement released on Thursday, Mahmoud announced that after he receives a response from the head of Morsy's office, he would interrogate whoever is found responsible for the phone tapping.

A judicial source told Al-Masry Al-Youm that if the Morsy administration confirms recording phone calls and meetings, investigations would commence and those found responsible would be charged with violating the sanctity of private life. If the presidency denies the recordings, the prosecutor’s office would summon Erian to testify and state what sources had made the allegations that these recordings were taking place.

Erian told the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper the president’s office either recorded or transcribed all calls in order to keep a record of the president’s decisions.

“What if the president spoke to some official who misunderstood his instructions,” he said.

"Why the fuss? This has been the norm since President (Gamal Abdel) Nasser,” he said. “Not documenting calls would be a mistake.” 

The Morsy administration denies the claims.

Turkish Anadolu news agency quoted presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali as saying that "reports circulated in that respect were totally untrue.”

Only the president, his deputy and the spokesperson can speak for the president’s office, Ali said.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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