US accuses Egypt of stifling freedom of expression

By REUTERS
April 1, 2013 22:22

 
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WASHINGTON - The United States on Monday accused Egypt of muzzling freedom of speech after prosecutors questioned the most popular Egyptian television satirist over allegations he insulted President Mohamed Morsi and Islam.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also suggested the Egyptian authorities were selectively prosecuting those accused of insulting the government while ignoring or playing down attacks on anti-government demonstrators.

Bassem Youssef, who rose to fame with a satirical online show after the uprising that swept autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011, turned himself in on Sunday after the prosecutor general issued an arrest warrant for the comedian on Saturday.

Youssef, whose program is now on television and has been compared to US satirist Jon Stewart's the Daily Show, is accused of insulting Islam and undermining Morsi's standing.

"We have concerns that freedom of expression is being stifled," Nuland told reporters at her daily briefing, citing Youssef's arrest and his subsequent release on bail of 15,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,200) on Sunday.

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