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Egypt President awards retired spy chief with one of state's highest awards

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CAIRO — Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi awarded the country's intelligence chief one of the state's highest awards on Sunday, after ordering his retirement.

Gen. Mohammed Farid el-Tohamy, a longtime mentor of el-Sissi, was seen as a hardliner in the government crackdown against Islamists and secular dissidents that followed the military ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.

PHOTO: In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, talks with intelligence chief Gen. Mohammed Farid el-Tohamy in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. El-Sissi awarded el-Tohamy the Republic Award, one of the state's highest awards, after ordering his retirement. (AP Photo/MENA, Mohammed Samaha)
In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, talks with intelligence chief Gen. Mohammed Farid el-Tohamy in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. El-Sissi awarded el-Tohamy the Republic Award, one of the state's highest awards, after ordering his retirement. (AP Photo/MENA, Mohammed Samaha)

The military-backed government had brought el-Tohamy out of retirement, ordered by Morsi, installing him as intelligence chief.

No reason was given in the presidential decree sending el-Tohamy to retirement. Security officials said that el-Tohamy, in his mid-60s, was retiring for health reasons. It is not clear if el-Tohamy's removal reflects a change in policy.

El-Sissi awarded el-Tohamy the Republic Award in his office Sunday. El-Sissi swore in his replacement, Maj. Gen. Khaled Fawzy, as acting intelligence chief.

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