Egypt's Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seen during a news conference in Cairo on the release of seven members of the Egyptian security forces kidnapped by Islamist militants in Sinai, May 22, 2013. Picture taken May 22, 2013..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
CBS aired its exclusive interview with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday night.
During the interview, the president spoke of his relations with Israel and military coordination between the two countries. He also spoke of his country's attitude toward demonstrators and political prisoners.
Sisi did not allow the show to be broadcast in Cairo, and the Egyptian government tried in recent days to prevent it, but the American media did not heed the request.
Interviewer, Scott Duffy said in one his questions that the Egyptian army was cooperating with the Israeli army in Sinai. When the interviewer asked Sisi whether it was the "deepest and closest" cooperation he had with Israel, the president replied: "It's true, the air force must sometimes move to the Israeli side, so we have broad coordination with Israel."
Other than Israel, Egypt is the recipient of the largest financial aid from the United States to any country in the Middle East, in the amount of nearly half a billion dollars a year. This occurs at the same time as Egypt is known for incarcerating thousands of political prisoners, killing unarmed demonstrators and violating the freedom of expression of its citizens.
When Duffy asked the president about this, Sisi denied that Egypt has political prisoners.
"We are trying to stand up to extremists who are trying to impose their ideology on the people, and now they are under fair trial," he told CBS.
When the interviewer insisted and confronted Sisi with data from human rights organizations, according to which about 60,000 political prisoners are being held in Egypt, the president replied: "I do not know from where these organizations got this impression."
He continued to adhere to his first claim, saying that these prisoners are members of an extremist minority that is trying to impose its extremist ideology on Egypt, likely a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.
When the interviewer asked him why the United States should continue to support the government, the Sisi hastened to say that it was a security investment in stability in the entire region.
"The United States is responsible for security in the world," he said. "I am not able to ask Egypt to forget their rights, the police or the citizens who died."
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