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Egyptian Authorities Question London Bombing Suspect


Egyptian authorities continue to question a chemistry student detained in connection with the London bombings, but say they found no links between him and al-Qaida. Magdy El-Nashar was linked by British police to an apartment, in which, they say bombs used in last week's attacks were made. He was arrested in Cairo on Thursday afternoon as he left his neighborhood mosque.

The family and friends of Magdy El Nashar, 35, continue to proclaim his innocence. El Nashar himself, according to an official statement, told interrogators he had nothing to do with the bombings and that he has left all his belongings in his apartment in Leeds, intending to return after his vacation in Cairo. The Egyptian National Research Center, which has sponsored El Nashar's studies so far, issued a statement saying he had just been awarded a grant to continue his research in England.

The Egyptian Minister of Interior told the Gomhorreya newspaper Saturday there was no connection between El Nashar and the terrorist group Al Qaida.

General Hossam Soweillem, the former director of the Strategic Center for Armed Forces, says the Egyptian authorities are proceeding cautiously because they have no conclusive proof that El Nashar was involved in the London attacks.

"We have no information regarding his involvement in terrorist action or in the London accidents," he said. "But it depends on what sort of information, what credibility of information, they have in Scotland Yard regarding El Nashar. When they come to Egypt and give us this information, talk with our security authorities, I think many facts will be disclosed."

British intelligence officials are expected in Cairo soon and may meet and question El Nashar before deciding whether to ask for his extradition.

El Nashar received a bachelor's and master's degree in Chemistry from Cairo University and in 2000 went to England to pursue his doctorate studies at Leeds University. He also studied for one semester at North Carolina State University in the United States.

At the low-income apartment building in Cairo where he has been staying with his family for the last few weeks, neighbors and friends described him as a quiet, studious young man. They said he had never shown signs of religious extremism.