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Arabic press review: Senior Egyptian judge charged with corruption

Meanwhile, UK pilgrim arrives in Mecca after walking 6,500km, Algeria refuses entry to Moroccan sports journalists and talks over visa-free entry for Saudis within Schengen area continue
An Egyptian judge has been charged with receiving bribes from businessmen, drug and arms dealers in exchange for granting them acquittals in cases he was presiding over (AFP)

Leaked documents reveal that one of Egypt's most prominent senior judges has been charged with corruption and other crimes, and he is currently on trial, according to Arabi 21.

Exclusive documents published on its website revealed details of the official investigation by the Supreme State Security Prosecution into Sami Mahmoud Ali Abdel Rahim, 56, the head of the Ismailia Court of Appeal.

The judge has issued dozens of sentences against members of the political opposition in Egypt, including death sentences and life imprisonment.

He is charged with receiving bribes from businessmen, drugs and arms dealers, some of whom are now among the defendants, in exchange for granting them acquittals in cases he was presiding over.

According to Arabi 21, a "prohibited automatic rifle", smuggled from outside Egypt and banned from private ownership in the country, was seized from the judge when he was arrested, along with ammunition for the rifle and various drugs.

About a month ago, Egyptian authorities issued an order banning coverage of the judge's case

Among scores of judgments by the judge against political opponents were those against Mohammed Badie, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In most of the cases, the judge issued sentences of 25 years' imprisonment, according to Arabi21.

UK pilgrim arrives in Mecca after walking 6,500km

A British Muslim of Iraqi origin has arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj after walking 6,000km from his hometown of Wolverhampton, the Saudi Sabq newspaper has reported.

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Videos of Adam Muhammed, 52, showed him arriving at the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca, where worshippers and other pilgrims greeted him at the Ayesha Mosque in Taneem, near Mecca.

Muhammed began his journey 10 months and 25 days ago, during which he passed through 11 countries to reach his destination.

Upon his arrival, he expressed thanks to the Saudi Arabians for their generous welcome, the newspaper said.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia began to receive Muslims from all over the world to perform Hajj, two years after the Covid-19 pandemic during which authorities had imposed restrictions on the entry of pilgrims from abroad.

Saudi authorities have decided to receive 850,000 pilgrims from around the world this year, in addition to 150,000 from within Saudi Arabia, compared to only 60,000 who were allowed to perform Hajj last year, and just 10,000 in 2020.

Algeria refuses entry to Moroccan sports journalists

Algerian authorities have refused to allow nine Moroccan journalists, who were with the Moroccan sports delegation participating in the 2022 Mediterranean Games in Oran, to enter the country because they did not obtain the necessary approval to cover the sporting event, according to the London-based New Arab newspaper.

Algerian authorities kept the Moroccan journalists at Oran International Airport before deporting them to Tunisia from where they returned to Morocco.

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Events such as the Mediterranean Games or Olympic Games require journalists to register within specific legal deadlines to obtain the necessary approval.

Algerian authorities allowed five Moroccan journalists, who had fulfilled the legal requirements and obtained approval in advance, to enter the country, according to the New Arab.

The deportation of the journalists sparked widespread anger among Moroccans and international professional bodies.

The National Union of the Moroccan Press described the incident as "an action that carries negative and extremely dangerous messages”.

The union said that "the Moroccan press delegation headed to Algeria to carry out professional tasks, within the framework of covering the Mediterranean Games, in which Morocco participates with a large sports delegation covering various sports, and the press delegation included only colleagues who hold press cards that identify their clear professional identity”.

Saudi Arabia discusses visa-free entry within Europe

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs discussed with European officials on Sunday the issue of facilitating entry for Saudi citizens to Schengen states without a visa, and the work needed to fulfil the technical aspects, according to the Saudi Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed al-Khuraiji discussed the matter with Dimitri Giotakos, the head of visa policy at the General Authority for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission, along with his team, during talks in Riyadh.

The two sides also reviewed relations between Saudi Arabia and the European Union and ways to promote them.

In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper last month, Patrick Simonet, the EU ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said “the European Union is working in parallel with a system to exempt all citizens of the Gulf countries from visas,” expressing “his optimism that the Saudis will be able to visit Europe soon without a visa”.

The European announcements came three weeks after the UK announced that it will make it easier for Saudis and Bahrainis to electronically secure visas 24 hours before flying.