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Egypt newspaper revives questions over Mubarak’s health

The army could not immediately be reached for comment on the al-Akhbar report.

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March 2, 2011 10:08 by



A state-owned Egyptian newspaper on Wednesday said Hosni Mubarak was being treated in hospital in Saudi Arabia, the latest media report about the ex-president’s health that comes after the army denied earlier speculation.

The army could not immediately be reached for comment on the al-Akhbar report. A military source had on Tuesday denied another media report that said Mubarak, 82, and his family tried to flee Egypt and afterwards Mubarak was hospitalised in Cairo.

Before Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11, a report about Mubarak’s health in a big state newspaper such as al-Akhbar would have been unthinkable unless given the official nod, even if official sources were not named.

But since his departure, state media has become more probing about officials and the way Egypt is governed, apparently reacting to public anger over their previous failure to hold officials to account. Sourcing for their reports is not always clear.

Wednesday’s edition of al-Akhbar newspaper quoted “sources informed about the news” and said Mubarak was in Tabuk in Saudi Arabia receiving chemotherapy for one hour every five days for colon and pancreatic cancer. It reported his family was with him in the private wing of the military hospital.

A military source had told Reuters on Tuesday that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which now rules Egypt, denied an earlier media report that said Mubarak and his family had tried to flee to Saudi Arabia. The source also denied that Mubarak had fallen ill afterwards and was hospitalised in Cairo.

The health of Mubarak has been subject of frequent speculation, as he aged in office and particularly since he had gallbladder surgery in March last year in Germany.

Officials had said after that operation that he recovered and frequently dismissed rumours about ill health. Mubarak had resumed a full schedule of meetings and other duties.

Since he stepped down after a wave of anti-government protests, Egyptian officials have said Mubarak was in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. They also denied reports and rumours that he was sick.

But one Saudi official, who asked not to be named, had said earlier in February that he was not doing well.

Egypt on Monday imposed a travel ban on Mubarak and his family while complaints about their wealth were investigated.

The public prosecutor issued an order freezing money and assets of Mubarak and his family after complaints they acquired wealth through illegal means, the prosecutor’s office said.

(Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed and Marwa Awad, Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Angus MacSwan)



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