Search Results for: zahi hawass

The Zahi Hawass Mystery (cont’d)

Zahi Hawass and Terry Garcia (via drhawass.com)

Terry Garcia, Executive Vice President for National Geographic Mission Programs, picked up the phone when I called his office in mid-September to ask him some questions, including a few about Zahi Hawass. (Formerly the Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Hawass is also a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Emeritus.)

Although Terry didn’t have time to chat, he sent me an email later in the day, which initiated the following exchange:

{ click to enlarge emails }

The Zahi Hawass Mystery continues….

NGS contract with Zahi Hawass is ruled illegal

Zahi Hawass
is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Emeritus
,

and the former head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. 

{ Read the whole thing here. }

Related notes (via a variety of sources):

  • This ruling is not a conviction of Zahi Hawass. However, the judge did determine that when Dr. Hawass signed the contract with National Geographic, he violated Egyptian law.
  • Why was the contract illegal? Because it was not signed with a government, museum, or scientific institute — a clear violation of Article 10 of Law #117. According to one source, Zahi tried to persuade former U.S. ambassador Margaret Scobey to officially endorse the exhibit, which would have made the contract a legal agreement with a foreign government, but she refused. Her letter to that effect was apparently introduced as evidence during the hearing.
  • The court also ruled the contract was a violation of Egyptian law because then-President Mubarak never approved the deal.
  • Minister of Antiquities Mohammed Ibrahim says he will comply with the court order and will review the legal steps needed to bring Cleopatra home.
  • What about the Tut exhibit, which is now on display in Seattle, Washington — also under the auspices of National Geographic? Another court case begins in early October to determine whether Tut should return home, too.
  • In Egypt, Zahi Hawass, who was a staunch defender of President Mubarak to the bitter end, remains in legal jeopardy. And as one very prominent face of the old regime, Zahi is not a popular man in Egypt. According to one source: “The contracts for the exhibits might become part of charges against Zahi for accepting bribes. Now we know it was Zahi himself who signed the contracts (and not some other Egyptian government official) with National Geographic and AEG/AE for the exhibits, and we know from the 990 forms he was taking payments from National Geographic at the same time. This is a crime under Egyptian law and it may be a violation of the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act] in the U.S. as well. … Investigators are working hard to collect more documents to build a watertight case against him. Zahi may be referred to trial within weeks.”

Does this mean that our Society may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act? Let’s hope & pray that we have not.

_____

This illegal contract — and the disturbing possibility of bribery and corruption charges — reminds us of two stories we posted last year….

The first story is about Terry Garcia, the Society’s EVP for Mission Programs who worked closely with Zahi Hawass for many years. In May 2011, President Obama nominated Terry to become the next Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. But when the nomination stalled months later, Terry withdrew himself from consideration without explaining why.

(I called Terry’s office last year for comment, but he was “in a meeting” — and never called back.)

Zahi Hawass and Terry Garcia (via drhawass.com)

The second story is Zahi’s very public embrace of Terry Garcia — and Tim Kelly & John Fahey — just as the Senate nomination process began in May 2011, and just as Zahi’s government career in Egypt was crashing & burning along with the Mubarak regime. “Terry is one of the greatest friends that I have ever had in my life,” Zahi begins his blog post. “When I think about my closest friends, Terry is at the top of the list!

Zahi then describes how Terry was a key player in the funding and organization of the Tutankhamun exhibition. At the end of the post, Zahi says: “I have faith that my two other good friends at National Geographic, John Fahey and Tim Kelly, will continue to support Egypt in the way that Terry has in the past.”  (Read the whole thing here.)

Given that Zahi probably knew that his dealings with National Geographic were legally questionable, his energetic and very public embrace of Terry, Tim, and John sounds less like an endorsement or a heartfelt “thank you,” and more like an attempt to share the glare of a media and legal spotlight which Zahi must have worried he might ultimately occupy alone.

It’s almost as if Zahi is saying: You and me, guys — we’re all in this together! 

For the sake of our Society’s reputation, it would be helpful to hear something — anything at all — from Terry, Tim or John about their dealings with Dr. Hawass, whose status inexplicably changed last year from National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence to National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence (Emeritus).

Zahi Hawass is back in the news — and so is our Society

Last June, I posted a news item about accusations that Zahi Hawass — a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence (Emeritus) — had taken revenue from overseas exhibitions of rare Egyptians artifacts and funneled the cash to the family of toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

This week the story has taken a new and troubling turn — especially for our Society:

Ahram Online, Monday 2 Apr 2012

General Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud on Monday referred charges of wasting public money and stealing Egyptian antiquities against Zahi Hawass, former minister of state for antiquities to the Public Fund Prosecution office.

Nour El-Din Abdul-Samad, Director of Archeological Sites, had filed the accusations against Hawass, and requested that the objects in question be returned to the Egyptian Museum.

The Public Funds Prosecution office also received other charges accusing Hawass of wasting public money and exposing Egyptian antiquities to stealing in collaboration with former regime members.

Hawass is accused of sealing a deal with the American Geographical Society [National Geographic Society] to display rare Egyptian antiquities in exhibitions across the United States and Australia, violating the law of protecting antiquities.

Hawass admitted in a television talk show that he had a 17 million dollar deal with the American Geographical Society [National Geographic Society] with regard to a Tutankhamun exhibition to raise donations for Suzanne Mubarak’s association, wife of former president Hosni Mubarak. Suzanne Mubarak’s association was a private association not a state body, and as such Hawass was not legally allowed to use his position as a state minister to raise funds for it.

The charges relate to Hawass agreeing to transfer and display 143 objects from the Egyptian Museum to Washington DC in 2003. The antiquities have yet to be returned to the museum.

These exhibitions violate the antiquities law that prohibits renting Egypt’s heritage.  {emphasis added}

From the Egypt Independent:

… In March 2011, Hawass denied signing an agreement with the American Geographical Society (National Geographic). Rather, he claimed that it was protocol whereby Egypt received a cat scan machine worth US$5 million for Egyptian scientists to conduct research on the mummy of Tutankhamun, in return for National Geographic to film the scientific work.

At the time, National Geographic was to pay an additional US$60,000 to the treasury of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

If these charges are true, and Zahi Hawass really did commit a crime, then two other stories from last year suddenly seem relevant again….

The first story is about Terry Garcia, the Society’s EVP for Mission Programs who worked closely with Zahi for many years. Last May, President Obama nominated Terry to become the next Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. But when the nomination stalled months later, Terry withdrew himself from consideration without explaining why.

(I called Terry’s office last year for comment, but he was “in a meeting” — and never called back.)

Zahi Hawass and Terry Garcia (via drhawass.com)

The second story is Zahi’s very public embrace of Terry Garcia — and Tim Kelly & John Fahey — just as the Senate nomination process began last May, and just as Zahi’s government career in Egypt was crashing & burning along with the Mubarak regime. “Terry is one of the greatest friends that I have ever had in my life,” Zahi begins his blog post. “When I think about my closest friends, Terry is at the top of the list!

Zahi then describes how Terry was a key player in the funding and organization of the Tutankhamun exhibition. At the end of the post, Zahi says: “I have faith that my two other good friends at National Geographic, John Fahey and Tim Kelly, will continue to support Egypt in the way that Terry has in the past.”  (Read the whole thing here.)

Given the recent criminal allegations by Egypt’s General Prosecutor, Zahi’s energetic and very public embrace of Terry, Tim, and John begins to sound less like an endorsement or a heartfelt “thank you,” and more like an attempt to share the glare of a media and legal spotlight which Zahi must have worried he might ultimately occupy alone.

It’s almost as if Zahi is saying: You and me, guys — we’re all in this together! 

For the sake of our Society’s reputation, it would be helpful to hear something — anything at all — from Terry, Tim or John about their dealings with Dr. Hawass, whose status inexplicably changed last year from National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence to National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence (Emeritus).

The Unraveling of Zahi Hawass

Why is Zahi Hawass, once a celebrated National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, now an Explorer-in-Residence Emeritus?

He bet on the wrong horse. And so did the National Geographic Society.

August 3, 2011

CAIRO — An ailing Hosni Mubarak, who served longer than any ruler of modern Egypt until he was overthrown in a revolution in February, was rolled into a courtroom in a hospital bed on Wednesday and charged with corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters. The trial was a seminal moment for Egypt and an Arab world roiled by revolt.

Even the most ardent in calling for his prosecution doubted until hours before the trial began that Mr. Mubarak, 83, would appear, a reflection of the suspicion and unease that reigns here. As a helicopter ferried him to the courtroom, housed in a police academy that once bore his name, cheers went up from a crowd gathered outside.

“The criminal is coming!” shouted Maged Wahba, a 40-year-old lawyer.

The sheer symbolism of the day made it one of the most visceral episodes in modern Arab history. In a region whose destiny was so long determined by rulers who deemed their people unfit to rule, one of those rulers was being tried by his public. …

As a headline in a popular Egyptian newspaper read: “The Day of Judgment.”

Read the whole thing here.

February 6, 2011:

It’s no secret that we believe National Geographic should have cut ties with Zahi a long time ago. His public embrace of what he calls an Arabic “idiom” is a disgrace and an embarrassment to our Society — and to any society that celebrates freedom, human rights, and democracy.

_____

When the leaders of a Society know who they are — and who they are not — it shows.

July 1943

Zahi Hawass, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Emeritus, is still making news in Egypt

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 – 14:59

Since 2002, revenue from overseas exhibitions of rare artifacts has gone to the family of toppled President Hosni Mubarak, an Egyptian antiquities official alleged Tuesday.

Abdel Rahman al-Aidy, head of the Central Department for the Artifacts of Central Egypt, said during a press conference on Tuesday that the attorney general had yet to take action on 21 reports Aidy filed calling for an investigation into well-known former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass and his aides.

He said he had prepared a list of the “five chief corrupt figures at the Supreme Council of Antiquities,” and added that he will file a report against them this week.

Meanwhile, Hawass has denied the accusation, saying a King Tut exhibition in the US generated US$70 million for Egypt, funds he said were used to finance the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum. ...

Read the whole thing here.

At NGS, Zahi Hawass is officially history

See National Geographic’s official page here.

According to last week’s story in The New York Times:

… National Geographic says it pays Mr. Hawass to advise it on major discoveries and help shape its policies on antiquities issues. It says it has never received preferential access to archaeological sites or discoveries.

If that’s really why our Society was paying him, then why have we suddenly stopped?

Even though he just lost his job as the chief gatekeeper for Egypt’s antiquities, Hawass is still fully capable of providing us with expert advice for $200,000 per year.

Zahi Hawass doubled down on a dictator — and lost

Why was Zahi Hawass — a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence — fired on Sunday as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities?

Here’s one small, but telling, reason: On February 6, 2011, Hawass appeared on the BBC to deliver a passionate defense of Hosni Mubarak, who, at the time, was days away from being forced to step down as the President of Egypt.

“[Hawass] was the Mubarak of antiquities,” said Nora Shalaby, an activist and archaeologist. “He acted as if he owned Egypt’s antiquities, and not that they belonged to the people of Egypt.”

The Ghost of Mubarak haunts Zahi Hawass

Egypt’s Iconic Antiquities Chief Fired

_____

By The Associated Press
Published: July 17, 2011 at 6:08 PM ET

Zahi Hawass, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and Egypt's former Minister of Antiquities

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s antiquities minister, whose trademark Indiana Jones hat made him one the country’s best known figures around the world, was fired Sunday after months of pressure from critics who attacked his credibility and accused him of having been too close to the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Zahi Hawass, long chided as publicity loving and short on scientific knowledge, lost his job along with about a dozen other ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle meant to ease pressure from protesters seeking to purge remnants of Mubarak’s regime.

“He was the Mubarak of antiquities,” said Nora Shalaby, an activist and archaeologist. “He acted as if he owned Egypt’s antiquities, and not that they belonged to the people of Egypt.” …

Read the whole thing here.

Question is: How long before Zahi “steps down” as a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence?

Zahi Hawass says he will lose his job as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities

Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf began a “sweeping cabinet shuffle on Sunday in a bid to appease protesters angry over the pace of reform.” 

Zahi Hawass — Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence — says he will not survive the shuffle.  

Details here & here.

Then again, we’ve seen this show before.

Zahi Hawass to “resign temporarily” as National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

According to a front-page story in the national edition of today’s New York Times, Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s embattled Minister of Antiquities, “has decided to resign temporarily as a National Geographic explorer [Explorer-in-Residence] so that he can focus on protecting antiquities.”

 

Revolution Dims Star Power of Egypt’s Antiquities Chief

By Kate Taylor

Until recently Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s antiquities minister, was a global symbol of Egyptian national pride. A famous archaeologist in an Indiana Jones hat, he was virtually unassailable in the old Egypt, protected by his success in boosting tourism, his efforts to reclaim lost artifacts and his closeness to the country’s first lady, Suzanne Mubarak.

But the revolution changed all that.

Now demonstrators in Cairo are calling for his resignation as the interim government faces disaffected crowds in Tahrir Square.

Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak & Dr. Zahi Hawass

Their primary complaint is his association with the Mubaraks, whom he defended in the early days of the revolution. But the upheaval has also drawn attention to the ways he has increased his profile over the years, often with the help of organizations and companies with which he has done business as a government official.

He receives, for example, an honorarium each year of as much as $200,000 from National Geographic to be an explorer-in-residence even as he controls access to the ancient sites it often features in its reports.

National Geographic first brought Mr. Hawass on as an explorer-in-residence, one of 16 it has around the world, in 2001 when he was director of the Giza pyramids. He has appeared in numerous National Geographic films about ancient Egypt, and the organization publishes some of his books and arranges his speaking engagements, for which he asks $15,000.

It is not clear how the National Geographic payments compare in size to Mr. Hawass’s government salary, which he would not disclose. National Geographic says it pays Mr. Hawass to advise it on major discoveries and help shape its policies on antiquities issues. It says it has never received preferential access to archaeological sites or discoveries.

Mr. Hawass said his impartiality was evident when the Discovery Channel won out over National Geographic in a bid to make films about DNA research on royal mummies.

“All proposals about films go before a committee,” he said in an e-mail, “and decisions are made to maximize both the scientific results and the profit for Egypt.”

But Mr. Hawass also said this week that he has decided to resign temporarily as a National Geographic explorer so that he can focus on protecting antiquities.

Read the whole thing here.

We welcome Zahi’s resignation for many reasons. Then again, his saying that “he has decided to resign temporarily” could mean almost anything.

For instance:

• He’s made the decision, but hasn’t actually resigned yet. And tomorrow is a new day. He could always change his mind.

• He resigns temporarily. Headlines! He returns to his ministerial position next Monday because… because the antiquities have been protected. Headlines! Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf announces his cabinet overhaul later this week — and Zahi remains standing. Or he gets tapped for an even more powerful position. Headline: Zahi Hawass: Survivor. And so on.

• His “temporary” departure is really permanent, and he knows it. But by saying “temporary,” he makes it sound as though duty calls, and that he needs to devote more of his time and energy to protect Egypt’s antiquities, legacy, and honor.  Which makes us wonder: Why in the world would Zahi walk away from a lucrative deal with NGS (the Times says as much as $200,000 per year) when his arrangement with our Society, best we can tell, requires very little of Zahi’s time or attention?  

Dear John,
Why is Zahi Hawass resigning? 

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.