Egyptian democracy advocate says government behind Facebook photos of daughter in swimsuit

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's most prominent democracy advocate accused President Hosni Mubarak's government Saturday of posting Facebook photos of his daughter in swimsuits and at events where alcohol was served in an attempt to discredit him.

Mohammed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former U.N. nuclear chief, was quoted in the independent Al-Dustour newspaper as saying the government is "waging a campaign of sheer lies" by using the photos to portray him and his family as nonbelievers — a politically damaging accusation in an increasingly conservative Muslim country.

The Facebook photos were an unusual personal attack on him and his family.

The more than 30 photos were posted under the title: "Secrets of the ElBaradei family." Some show his daughter in swimsuits at the beach and sitting at events in front of what appeared to be bottles of alcohol. Drinking is forbidden in Islam and conservative Muslims would generally consider a woman appearing publicly in a bathing suit to be immodest.

"This just shows how desperate the forces against change have become by resorting to a smear campaign based on lies and fabrication," ElBaradei told The Associated Press through a spokeswoman.

A spokesman for Mubarak's National Democratic Party said it had no connection to the Facebook campaign, which he called an attempt at "character assassination."

"I think this is a very grave mistake, violating the privacy of others," said Ali Eddin Helal.

ElBaradei has drawn the government's anger with a campaign he started early this year boldly calling for electoral reform and constitutional amendments that would allow a credible candidate to challenge the ruling party in next year's presidential election.

Respected internationally and untouched by the corruption tainting much of Egypt's regime, ElBaradei brought together a coalition of young activists and opposition groups to push for change.

On Wednesday, he called on Egyptians to boycott this year's parliamentary election. In a post on Twitter, he said a "total boycott of the elections and signing petitions are the first steps to unmask the shameful democracy."

Government-controlled media have tried to undermine him by describing him as out of touch with Egyptian society because he lived abroad for many years and accusing him of being an American stooge.

The Facebook site also says his daughter is married to a Christian and shows an image of what it purports is her real profile from the social networking site listing her religious status as agnostic.

The Facebook site also accuses ElBaradei himself of being an atheist and of seeking to deceive Egyptians by touring mosques and being photographed praying.