Phoenix Ancient Art has stated that the information published by the Thomson Reuters news agency regarding Mr. Ali Aboutaam, dated January 15, 2009, is incorrect.
The story stated that Mr. Aboutaam was under arrest in Sofia, Bulgaria. In fact, Mr. Aboutaam is at his home in Switzerland and his movements are not restricted.
A registered letter was sent on January 19, 2009 to the Swiss office of Thomson Reuters to ensure that this false information, which was issued through that company's Cairo agency at the behest of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, would be deleted immediately.
As a result, Thomson Reuters published the same day, a new dispatch specifying the facts underlying its initial news report and indicating this time that the Sofia High court, Bulgaria, had issued a definitive ruling on Egypt's motion for extradition and had concluded in its verdict, based on the applicable European Community law, that the Egyptian motion was without merit and therefore inadmissible - an extremely unusual action in extradition law.
To summarize the background: Mr. Aboutaam was sentenced in absentia to 15 years imprisonment in Egypt in 2004, accused of aiding and abetting in the smuggling of antiquities. This sentence was handed down following the trial of several Egyptian nationals and nine international associates, a trial which took place without Mr. Aboutaam ever being informed that any proceedings whatsoever had been instigated against him and without him being invited to participate in such proceedings. The sentence that was pronounced following this first trial was never even notified to Mr. Aboutaam, whose address in Switzerland is publicly known due to his important commercial activities. Consequently, Mr. Aboutaam only learned of this verdict against him later on, through a third party who drew his attention to the content of articles that had appeared in the Egyptian media.
See the above page for the full story.