Messages urged 'honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals'
Vodafone has claimed the Egyptian authorities forced it to send pro-government text messages during this week's protests.
Twitter has been buzzing with screen grabs from Vodafone's Egyptian customers showing text messages sent over the course of the demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-old regime.
A text message received on Sunday by an Associated Press reporter in Egypt appealed to the country's "honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honour". Another urged Egyptians to attend a pro-Mubarak rally in Cairo on Wednesday. The first was marked as coming from "Vodafone". The other was signed: "Egypt Lovers."
Vodafone said the messages had been drafted by Egyptian authorities and that it had no power to change them. "Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable. We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator."
The company said its competitors – including Egypt's Mobinil and the United Arab Emirates' Etisalat – were doing the same. Vodafone said the texts had been sent "since the start of the protests" but declined to reveal how many such messages it had sent or whether it was still putting them out.
Vodafone is already under fire for its role in the internet blackout that cut Egyptian users off for several days. It said the order could not be ignored as it was binding under local law.