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Egypt seeks to seize Mubarak's assets abroad

By Ernesto Londono
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 21, 2011; 8:46 PM

CAIRO - Egypt's top prosecutor on Monday asked the Foreign Ministry to seek help from foreign governments to seize ousted president Hosni Mubarak's assets, Egyptian state media reported.

Public prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud said the request will also cover assets in the name of Mubarak's wife, Suzanne, his sons Alaa and Gamal, and their wives.

The move appeared to be an attempt to appease demonstrators who forced Mubarak to step down Feb. 11, after 18 days of street protests. One of the protesters' top demands has been holding the former president accountable for what they call widespread graft and corruption.

It is unclear how much money Mubarak and his relatives have abroad. Switzerland announced shortly after Mubarak's ouster that it would freeze his assets there as well as those belonging to "parties close to him."

An unnamed legal representative speaking on Mubarak's behalf was quoted in state media Sunday saying reports that the former leader has several billion dollars abroad are "groundless."

Since the country's military chiefs forced him to step down, Mubarak has reportedly been in the coastal town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula.

The country is being governed by the military council, which has vowed to hold fair elections in the fall. Demonstrators have largely welcomed the military's assumption of power, but protests have not stopped.

Activists say they will continue to press for the dismissal of ministers appointed by Mubarak, the repeal of an emergency law that allows the government to detain people indefinitely without judicial review, and the release of political prisoners.

The prosecutor's request came as British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Cairo on Monday to meet with the country's interim leaders.

The United States dispatched a senior diplomat to Cairo. Undersecretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns was scheduled to meet with government officials and civil society representatives, the State Department said.

"Americans deeply respected and admired what Egypt has already achieved, but we know that the road ahead is not going to be easy," Burns said, speaking at the Arab League in Cairo, according to a transcript released by the U.S. Embassy. "We also know that it's a road that can only be navigated by Egyptians themselves."

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