Washington — Washington has yet to absorb the shock of federal criminal charges against Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Robert Menendez, the highest-ranking U.S. official to be charged of such weight.
The 39-page indictment included 4 main charges as follows:
The list of accusations, seen by Al Jazeera Net, indicated the involvement of a number of Egyptian officials in communicating and arranging for this relationship with Senator Menendez, and referred to them without mentioning their names or positions, and only "the Egyptian official", and classified them by numbers from 1 to 5.
Abbas Kamel in Washington
Despite US President Joe Biden's adoption of hostile rhetoric towards the Egyptian regime during the presidential election campaign due to Cairo's poor record on democracy and human rights issues, he phoned Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the first time since coming to power twice in one week, after the cessation of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip in May 2021, where Washington praised the Egyptian role.
Subsequently, the head of the Egyptian intelligence service, Major General Abbas Kamel, visited the US capital for several days in June 2021, prompting the Washington Post in its editorial on June 22 to call on the Biden administration to open the files of human rights and political detainees in Egypt.
A day earlier, in a statement, U.S. human rights organizations called on Congress to raise human rights issues during meetings of members of the Foreign Relations Committee with the head of Egyptian intelligence.
Indictment and Egyptian Official No. 5
The indictment on page 17 indicates that Senator Menendez met in a Washington hotel with "Egyptian Official-5," whom the indictment presented as a senior Egyptian intelligence official.
Hotels in Washington usually don't meet unless they include a guest who doesn't want to appear in public at a high-end Washington restaurant.
The indictment notes that on Monday, June 21, 2021, the senator's wife, Nadine Menendez, in coordination with Egyptian Administrator No. 4, organized the private meeting between Senator Menendez and Egyptian Administrator No. 5, prior to the meeting of Egyptian Administrator No. 5 the next day with other U.S. senators.
The dates of General Abbas Kamel's presence in Washington coincide with the dates of these interviews.
The indictment added that Senator Menendez provided his wife with a copy of an article containing questions that members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the issue of human rights in Egypt intend to ask Egyptian official No. 5.
The next day, Nadine Menendez sent a text message to Egyptian Official 4 to convey to Egyptian Official No. 5, in which she hoped the article she sent would be useful: "I thought it would be better to know in advance what was being talked about and that way you could prepare your responses."
The indictment then indicated that two days after Senator Menendez's private meeting with Egyptian official No. 5, Wael Hanna, one of three men involved with him in the case, purchased 3 gold bars with a unique serial number, two of which were later found during a search of Senator Menendez's home.
The indictment also notes that Menendez and his wife made a private visit to Cairo in October 2021, during which Egyptian official No. 5 hosted a private dinner at his home for the important American visitor.