US criticizes sentencing of Sadat relative

November 1, 2006 23:22

The United States criticized on Wednesday as a violation of free speech rights the sentencing of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's nephew on charges he defamed the military. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "we are extremely concerned" by a criminal court's sentencing of Talaat Sadat, a parliamentarian and an outspoken government critic. In fact, Sadat was convicted by a military court. "The keystone to a democratic society is the right to free speech, including the right to criticize one's government, and that extends to the military," he said. However, McCormack said the sentencing would have no impact on the $1.7 billion in annual aid the United States provides Egypt. Some U.S. lawmakers have suggested reducing the amount, saying Egypt has made too little progress in democratic reforms. McCormack said US worries about free speech issues and the rule of law are well known in Egypt and other countries. He said the Egyptian government understood the Us position.

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