CAIRO -- Less than a month after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's caretaker government faces a new crisis: what to do about thousands of documents that protesters seized from State Security Agency offices over the weekend.
The military-led interim authority has demanded that the classified files kept by Mubarak's dreaded internal spy agency be returned. Instead, they're being scattered throughout Egypt, with files turning up on Facebook and Twitter hourly, forcing the government to respond to them and raising fears among some activists that their value has been reduced for any future prosecutions for torture and kidnapping.
Some of what the documents contain is salacious and sinister.
One file includes a sex tape purportedly involving a Kuwaiti princess and a prominent Egyptian businessman. Another paints Egypt's highest-ranking cleric as a womanizer.
Israa Abdel Fattah, 32, a labor organizer and blogger, shared her file with McClatchy and marveled at the thoroughness of the surveillance. The file included detailed transcripts of e-mails sent from her Gmail account and phone conversations with her ex-husband. The feeling of violation was indescribable, she said.
"I knew they were watching me, but I never imagined they knew all this information about me," she said. "My friends tried to take me out to dinner that night. They tried to make me laugh, but I couldn't. I told them I should be alone, so I took my papers and went home."
Perhaps the most controversial document to surface was one that purports to lay out State Security's involvement in a church bombing on New Year's Day in Alexandria. The bombing killed 21 people and wounded 80, the worst violence against Egypt's Coptic Christian minority in more than a decade.
The legitimacy of the document hasn't been determined, but its distribution touched off protests Sunday in Cairo by hundreds of Coptic Christians.
Copts, especially those in Alexandria, had suspected state involvement in the bombing, noting that a stepped-up security force that was supposed to have protected the church had vanished before the bomb exploded.
According to the document, one of eight said to discuss attacks on churches, State Security used a jailed Islamist to help organize the plot, including details on the church's entrances and exits. The document was dated Dec. 2, 2010, and was addressed to the interior minister. It referred to the church bombing as "Mission No. 77." (Read more.)